Where to begin? Where to begin?: It wasn't a bad Mardi Gras--if you didn't get shot, robbed or arrested. You heard about some of the shootings; you know there were robberies too. The problem has been rounding up the information. The "new" system (perhaps "system" ought to be in quotes instead of "new") is labor-intensive: an 8th District officer has to rewrite perfectly good reports that were already composed in the "old" system and could be transmitted with little fuss or muss. The new system doesn't work badly until there's a deluge of crimes like during the last 5 days of Carnival.
Shootings first: In the week before Mardi Gras, there were at least 9 people shot in the 8th District alone (I can't count high enough to inquire about the other 7 NOPD districts), making it the most violent Carnival in recent memory:
- Saturday, 10:21 p.m.: 5 people were shot at Canal and Baronne streets after the Endymion Parade. Supposedly 2 of the victims were in a verbal altercation when 2 suspects opened fire, hitting 3 men, ages 17, 18, and 19, and 2 women, ages 22 and 24. They were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening wounds.
- Sunday, 2:45 a.m.: Some one was shot in the 900 block of Common Street. No information available.
- Monday, 1:22 a.m.: In the 100 block of Bourbon Street, a 16-year-old black boy from Uptown was shot in his right side and a 20-year-old black dude from the Lower 9th Ward was shot in the calf. There was a report an arrest had been made in the case shortly before noon today, but 8th District cops haven't confirmed it.
- Wednesday (1.30.08), 9:24 p.m.: A warrant has been issued for a suspect in the shooting of an innocent bystander at the Holiday Inn Express at 221 Carondelet St. According to the Times-Picayune, the suspect is Raymond White, 16, whose last known address was in the 2500 block of Clio Street. But, again, the 8th District won't reveal any information on the suspect though he may be running loose in your neighborhood.
- Saturday, 4:45 a.m.: A white couple (no ages given) were walking in the 700 block of St. Philip Street when they were accosted by 3 black men. One of the thugs struck the man in the face and another thug pushed the woman to the ground and took the money she had pinned to her shirt (some swell birthday, huh?) The punks, who were described only as young black boys wearing hooded sweatshirts, then raced toward N. Rampart Street on foot. (Wouldn't you just love to grab one of those little dorks by his "hoodie" and swing him around and launch him into the universe?)
- Sunday, 10:10 p.m.: As the clerk was preparing to open the business at 203 Chartres St. (what sort of business doesn't open until 10 at night? maybe I don't want to know) 2 robbers bolted through the unlocked front door and pulled a gun, demanding money. The clerk gave up $700 (wow! that's some kind of change for a business just opening) and they fled.
- Monday, 4:14 a.m.: A white man (again, no age given) was walking on Royal Street toward Gov. Nicholls Street by Verti-Mart when a silver-colored car pulled up and the passenger pulled a gun and demanded his money. Then the passenger again got out of the car and demanded money again. The victim said he had no money, so the passenger got back in the car and it took off up Royal.
- Monday, 4:35 a.m.: Someone was robbed at gunpoint in the 400 block of Andrew Higgins Boulevard. No information available.
- Tuesday, 11:30 p.m.: 2 white guys (again, no age given) were running in the 600 block of Esplanade Avenue, between Royal and Chartres streets, when they noticed 2 black guys standing by a car. As the victims neared, one of the thugs pulled a gun and demanded money. They surrendered a wallet containing $5 and the robbers ordered them to run away, which they happily did.
- Wednesday, 6:29 a.m.: There was a pursesnatching at 1630 Canal St., near S. Claiborne Avenue. No information available.
- Wednesday, 10:18 p.m.: A white woman (again, no age given) walking in the 1000 block of Burgundy, between Ursulines Avenue and St. Philip Street, was approached from behind by a black man who grabbed her purse and struck her in the side of the head with his fist.
Frightening: As frightening as shootings and robberies are, I'll tell you what's really frightening: seeing Chief Warren Riley standing there with that deer-in-the-headlights pose, bobbing his head like he doesn't have a clue what to do about these punks who are terrorizing the city.
In his press conference Monday, Riley blamed the shootings on "young, brazen thugs" running around with guns tucked in their baggy pants and "hoodies", noting that all the shooters were younger than 19, some have arrest records. And as dumb as these punks seemed to be by shooting with cops all over the place, he acts like they're outsmarting him.
If he has no idea of how to deal with them, here are some commonsense ideas from citizens:
- If the uniform these punks are running around in are "baggy pants and hoodies," start stopping groups of them dressed in this gang gear for questioning--it's often easy to spot guns even in that droopy garb.
- If you know "some have arrest records," question whether they're in compliance with the terms of their probation.
- Enforce the curfew laws. One of the victims in last Monday's shooting on Bourbon Street was 16 years old--out at 1 a.m. with a 20-year-old buddy of his. Where was his mama? He could have just as easily been a perpetrator as a victim.
- Riley notes cops were all over the place when the recent shootings occurred. But have you ever seen cops patrolling a crowd? This has been a major complaint amongst citizens at NONPAC meetings about the officers patrolling Bourbon Street. Too often they're standing in groups of a half-dozen or so, chatting amongst themselves rather than splitting up into pairs and walking and talking with the public all around. If these potential perps knew they were being scrutinized, they might be a little more circumspect about their behavior.