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City, residents on edge after recent gun violence

30th November 2015   ·   0 Comments

A series of shootings, robberies and other violent crimes over the past two weeks have made it clear that the undermanned NOPD will continue to have its hands full as the end of the year approaches.
On Nov. 20, two days before the Bunny Friend Playground mass shooting, NOPD officials released data that showed violent crime is up but overall crime is down over the first nine months of 2015 compared to the same period last year. Murders, rapes and armed robberies are all up in 2015 despite an overall drop in crime of seven percent. Murder is up 16 percent, rape is up 56 percent and armed robbery is up three percent in 2015.

“This is a scary city,” local criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf told Times Picayune. “These are high numbers.”

The NOPD is investigating a shooting that left 17 people wounded Sunday night, Nov. 22, at Bunny Friend Playground, which is located at 1903 Desire Street.

According to police, several hundred people gathered at the Ninth Ward playground for an impromptu music video shoot at about 6:15 p.m. when two groups of people began firing guns at one another. Witnesses told the NOPD that both groups left the playground on foot immediately after exchanging gunfire. Fifth District officers had already been dispatched to the playground to make the crowd disperse after learning that those who organized the video shot did not have a city permit to do so and arrived on the scene immediately after the shooting.

Officers worked quickly to control the crowd and identify victims. EMS workers transported 10 injured people to area hospitals. Police later learned of an additional seven victims that had been brought to area hospitals by civilians. NOPD officials said early last week that detectives were still working to learn the extent of all the victims’ injuries.

The Bunny Friend Playground shooting is the third mass shooting in New Orleans in three years. The others are the Bourbon Street shooting on June 29, 2015 which left one woman dead and 10 others wounded, and the May 12, 2013 Mother’s Day shooting that left 19 people wounded.
FOX 8 News talked with residents who said something has to be done about the violence.

“it was crazy, it was pandemonium,” said David Jones.

Jones told FOX 8 that he couldn’t even count how many shots he heard Nov. 22. He was at his home near the playground where hundreds of people had gathered for a block party and an impromptu music video shoot.

“I thought it was firecrackers, and we looked out on the porch and everybody was running all the way down the block and we couldn’t believe it. I came down here to see what happened, just people laying on the ground, people who got shot, all laying on the ground,” Jones said.

Now, Jones and other residents are asking for more police patrols in the area.

“After a second line, if you are going to have an after-party in the park, we should have at least, have more police presence around,” Jones said.

Another neighbor who was afraid to go on camera showed FOX 8 where a bullet went through her home while she and her family were inside. Another bullet shattered her truck windshield. Now they’re considering moving.

Jones said he is also concerned for his family’s safety.

“It could have not just been in this park, it could have been in somebody’s house, they could have been outside the house, you know, you never know. The way crime is right now, man, you just got to protect yourself,” Jones said.

According to FOX 8, police were back out at the park Monday investigating, while others dropped by to offer support.

“I just wanted to come down here and make sure none of my kids got shot,” former Bunny Friend football coach Deke Bonvillain told FOX 8. “None of my coaches got shot. My son was crying this morning. He had his Bunny Friend jersey on. It’s just a shame that this goes on, it’s a playground, it’s for kids.”

Elected officials expressed anger and frustration about the gun violence that continues to plague the city.

“I cannot put my thoughts on this weekend’s shooting at Bunny Friend Playground into words powerful enough to accurately portray my feelings,” Councilman Jared Brossett said in a statement. “The callous disregard for human life and innocent bystanders is difficult to comprehend. We see so much positivity and optimism in our city, but we will not tolerate this plague of senseless behavior. The symptoms of this plague manifest in forms of violence and ignorance, and we have no choice but to attack both the symptoms and the root causes with full force.

“The perpetrators must not be allowed to get away with this and we need the community’s active participation to bring them to justice,” Brossett continued. “We must send the message that there are consequences for these senseless acts. We also need to strengthen the bonds of the community, get back to raising young men and women who know the difference between right and wrong, and give them educational and economic opportunities that lead to a better path.

“Safety and security for children and families visiting our parks and recreation facilities is one of my top priorities. During the 2015 and 2016 budgeting processes, I supported giving additional funding to the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission specifically for security and will continue to do so in the future. I will continue to support the idea of the New Orleans Police Department working in conjunction with NORDC to implement community policing strategies that can prevent tragedies like we saw this weekend at Bunny Friend Playground.”

Shortly after the shooting, detectives began combing the neighborhood in search of surveillance video of the incident that might aid them in identifying suspects and other critical information about the case.

Anyone with information about the incident or video footage that they believe may be helpful to detectives as they gather evidence to bring the shooters to justice is being asked to call the NOPD immediately. Fifth District detectives are in charge of the ongoing investigation and can be reached at (504) 658-6050.

Citizens with information that can help solve this crime are being asked to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111 or toll-free 1-877-903-STOP. He or she could receive a cash reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest, except for homicides, where Crimestoppers will pay half of the reward upon the arrest and half on the indictment of the responsible person(s). You do not have to give your name nor testify to receive the reward but you must contact Crimestoppers directly with your information. Civilians can also submit an anonymous tip online to Crimestoppers at

In a show of solidarity, residents and elected officials gathered Monday night at Bunny Friend Playground to pray for an end to the senseless violence in New Orleans.

While the Rev. Raymond Brown said he too is angry and frustrated about the scourge of violent crime that continues to plague New Orleans, he says the city and its residents need more than symbolic gestures and well wishes to turn the city around.

“We need better educational and economic opportunities for young people,” Brown told The Louisiana Weekly Tuesday. “We need real job training for young Black men, the ones most likely to not have high school diplomas and fall prey to drugs, street crime and violence.

“That needs to be a top priority for all elected officials and community leaders, not just an empty campaign promise or pretty words during a news conference. Actions and policies speak louder than words.”

On the same day that the NOPD released its latest crime stats, Tulane medical student Peter Gold was shot in the stomach by 21-year-old Euric Cain, as the suspect was allegedly trying to kidnap a young woman on Magazine Street. The suspect reportedly tried to shoot Gold in the head twice but the gun jammed both times. Cain and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Nictoria Washington, have since been arrested. He is charged with attempted first-degree murder, armed robbery with a firearm, second-degree kidnapping and attempted armed robbery with a firearm. Washington is charged with being an accessory after the fact to armed robbery.

Gold’s family said the fourth-year medical student’s condition has been upgraded to stable.

This article originally published in the November 30, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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