Four men in less than three months have been shot to death in north Lafayette, all of them killed in the dark hours of the early morning, and questions in the unsolved homicides linger without answers.
The victims’ families — some for months now, some for weeks and some for just a matter of days — have been left to speculate about the last moments of their loved ones, with rumors running heavy in the streets but investigators apparently lacking sufficient information to make arrests.
“It gets nerve-wracking. Like, why can’t y’all find out who did it?” said Kadie Brooks, whose 32-year-old older brother, Aaron Brooks Jr., was killed at his home on May 8.
“Somebody,” she said, “somebody knows something.”
Who pulled the trigger? Are the killings connected? What are the motives behind this violence?
The public is mostly at a loss for official facts about the deaths , as police, working to protect the integrity of their ongoing investigations, have released little information to the public about the circumstances in each case.
Like Brooks’ killing, police suspect a robbery was involved in the May 24 shooting of Scottie Alfred, 51, who was killed about a mile from where Brooks died. But more information about the two killings is scarce.
“The one that did it knows,” said Casalina Nady, whose 21-year-old son, Damien Champ, was found on June 30, shot to death in the street, about a mile north of Brooks’ home. “And I just hope that one day, when they decide to get together and start bragging, that somebody’s there to hear.”
Although the four killings all happened within a 2-mile span of the city, three of them were in Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux’s district, prompting him to join police in a June news conference pleading for information from the public.
After 30-year-old Amon Bob was shot dead on Friday just three blocks from where Alfred was killed, Boudreaux again asked for the public’s help, offering himself as a conduit for information should anyone be uncomfortable talking directly to police.
“I’m pleading with my community: Let’s solve one, let’s solve the other, and let’s bring closure to the families and let’s prevent the next one,” Boudreaux said in an interview. “Then hopefully, we can start addressing these issues that are the root factors in this violence.”
What is known
In Brooks’ killing, police said there was no forced entry evident at his home in the 500 block of Northeast Evangeline Thruway — where he had been living about four months — and thus they suspect it was someone he may have known.
Although a robbery is suspected in his death, which happened sometime between 2:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., police have not disclosed further details.
Kadie Brooks, his sister, said the police are doing good work in trying to find Aaron’s killer, but she said people in the streets tell her more than what they’re willing to tell detectives.
“People make it so hard nowadays,” she said in an interview. “People just see stuff and hear stuff and say nothing.”
In Alfred’s killing — also said to be tied to a robbery — a dark-colored Jeep with chrome rims is noted as a vehicle of interest, and more than one person was seen in the vehicle around the time of the shooting, police have said. Alfred died sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. while sleeping in his car outside his niece’s East Foch Street home.
It was something Alfred, a lifetime resident of the neighborhood who was well regarded for his generosity and kind nature, did often. He worked nights as manager at The Willow Lounge and often would head to a casino after work until the early morning hours, said Greg Alfred, his younger brother.
“My brother was here 10 minutes. They was waiting for him,” he said, noting the car was still running when he found him dead about 6 a.m. that day.
Chelsie Alfred, Scottie and Greg’s niece who owns the East Foch Street house where her uncle was killed, said she heard the gunshots outside the front bedroom in which she normally sleeps with her 1-year-old son.
She happened to sleep in the back room that night.
“I heard pow — pow pow pow pow pow,” she recalled. “I still wake up at night. I see it constantly. Constantly.”
A little more than a month after Alfred’s death, police found Champ dead from a gunshot wound in the 300 block of Bossier Street, about 2 miles north.
Champ had just been released the same day from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center after serving a few months for a drug possession charge.
Nady, Champ’s mother, spoke with him briefly that evening on the phone. She didn’t have a chance to hold a long conversation with him when he called that night, she said. He was killed six hours later.
“I wrestle with thoughts daily. It’s like, what did you get into? Or who did you go meet?” Nady said of her son. “The few people he was around that night — they’re not talking.”
Bob was found dead on Friday in the 100 block of Clifford Road at the East Simcoe Street intersection. Authorities responded to a report of gunfire about 1 a.m. and found Bob dead on the asphalt, police said.
The man everybody in the neighborhood knew as “Monie” was walking home when he was shot, although no one could speak to the circumstances of what happened, his aunt, Josilla Sylvester, said.
“The devil is alive,” Sylvester, on Friday evening, told a large crowd gathered with lit candles at the spot where Bob died.
“Drop the guns,” she pleaded. “He can’t have us all.”
Residents call for change
After prayer recitations at the Friday evening memorial, an attempt to sing “This Little Light of Mine” fizzled out as twilight settled in and Bob’s closest friends and family members broke down in sobs.
Soon after, neighborhood resident Ronald Onezine commanded the swelling crowd of more than 100 with an impassioned diatribe against what he said were the reckless attitudes governing the streets of some neighborhoods.
“We killing up our own kind! We killing up our own kind!” he shouted, clutching his middle-school-aged son at his hip. “You think them laws care? Them laws don’t care if you’re killing your own kind! That’s just one less brother they gotta come in the hood and look for!”
Almost eight years ago, Onezine’s 21-year-old younger brother, Micheal Onezine, was shot dead on the same block. Onezine said he once led the same lifestyle he was now condemning but going through the death of a brother and watching the growth of his son changed that.
“We’re not being parents and guiding our children,” he said, holding his son close. “Anybody can be a gangsta. Anybody can be a thug. But if you ain’t got no education, you’re nothing.”
Boudreaux, the area councilman, said ensuring education among the youth is but one important factor in helping this community, which year after year sees the highest homicide rate in the city limits.
“Some people are not going to medical professionals. They’re struggling to make ends meet. Some people haven’t finished school or don’t do well in school,” Boudreaux said on Friday. “We’re saturating the community with the same income levels and ideas and qualities, and it has an impact.”
If the community wasn’t so beset by violence, he said, people could focus on a host of areas that need improvement: health, mental health, job security, adequate housing and positive familial guidance.
“It’s going to be hard to get improved quality of life in our community if we cannot prevent these killings from taking place,” Boudreaux said.
Killings like the death of 18-year-old Jo’Nathan Delacroix, a Northside High School senior and basketball player. He was killed at his 12th Street home on May 9 — two weeks before graduation — while he and a friend were playing with what they thought was an unloaded gun, police have said. They consider that incident an accident, booking the friend with negligent homicide.
A week later, at a benefit to help fund Delacroix’s funeral, a 16-year-old boy was shot twice and hospitalized in a drive-by shooting.
“If we don’t begin to do better and take care of some of our own issues and demand better,” Boudreaux said, “it’s going to be difficult to get any accountability.”
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825