After walking into his father’s house near New Orleans’ lakefront and discovering his dad had been shot dead late Sunday, 35-year-old Herbert Meyers III walked to his truck, grabbed an AK-47 and fired at two intruders he encountered in the home, he told a reporter Monday.
The New Orleans Police Department, meanwhile, said it was processing ballistics evidence to determine exactly how many guns were fired on Sunday evening inside the home of Herbert Meyers Jr., 54, who co-owned a jazz club in Gulfport, Mississippi, with his son and namesake before he was slain.
Herbert Meyers III told The New Orleans Advocate that he left his father — who was eating dinner — on Sunday night to pick up some supplies from a nearby pharmacy for their club, the 13th Street Jazz Bistro. The younger Meyers said he drove to the store, played with his phone for a little bit and ultimately decided not to go in because he’s “wishy-washy like that.”
Meyers III said he returned to his father’s house in the 2400 block of Oriole Street about 15 minutes after he’d left. When he walked in, he said, he saw his father slumped over in the kitchen as gun smoke filled the air.
“So I ran up to him — I’ve been in the medical field 15 years — and I start checking him out,” said Meyers III, who added that he worked at various New Orleans hospitals as a trauma technician. “And then, as I was doing that ... I heard a (voice) from his bedroom, catty-corner from us, whispering, ‘Let’s go, let’s go!’ ”
The younger Meyers said he is a firearms enthusiast who frequents the gun range and that he had an AK-47 in his truck outside.
The son — who at some point called 911 to report a burglary — walked to his truck, grabbed his weapon and re-entered his father’s home, heading to the living room.
Meyers III said he suddenly caught a glimpse of the right arm and right leg of a man, who also was toting an AK-47.
“As soon as I see that, I immediately start shooting,” he said. But the armed man and a companion of his “already had the back door open, so they were able to (run) out” that way.
Meyers III said his father’s bedroom safe had been knocked to the floor and opened. Drawers also were opened as the bedroom was ransacked, he said.
Police responding to the call about a burglary in progress arrived about 10:50 p.m. and found the father suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Paramedics subsequently pronounced the elder Meyers dead at the scene, said Sgt. Nicholas Gernon, commander of the NOPD’s Homicide Section.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Gernon said he couldn’t confirm much beyond the fact that at least one AK-47 was involved in the elder Meyers’ killing. “We can’t go into specifics as to what its involvement was, where it was on the scene — things of that nature,” Gernon said. “It’s case-sensitive.”
Gernon said his investigators were asking neighbors for any video footage their home security systems might have captured around the time of the shooting and that they were taking an inventory of items in the house. He said the NOPD’s belief on Monday that at least two people participated in the killing could change “as we ... gather more information ... from the neighborhood.”
For his part, Meyers III said he believed he recognized one of the intruders he fired at. That man had dreadlocks down most of his back and was about 6-foot-5, he said. The other man was shorter but wore a ski mask, he said.
Meyers III said his father ran a construction company as well as the jazz club they operated together and that he might have been killed by a contractor or client with whom he had a disagreement.
“He would deal with guys from all walks of life,” the younger Meyers said about his father. “They’d come in and out the house.”
As news of the killing spread, friends remembered the elder Meyers as a kindhearted person and a driven entrepreneur.
Pierre Charbonnet, a partner in one of Meyers’ construction businesses, said his friend was “a good businessman always looking to increase his wealth.”
He said Meyers’ goal above all others was to establish a jazz club, which he accomplished in Gulfport last year.
“It was something he always wanted, and he finally got it,” Charbonnet said. “I didn’t even have a chance to go before this happened.”
Jackie Harris, the director of the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp, said a sponsorship by Meyers Jr. — a board member — permitted a student from New Orleans’ St. Peter Claver School to attend the jazz camp in 2014.
Meyers Jr. intended to do more for Harris’ organization this year and planned to arrange a jazz festival in Gulfport with the help of the mayor there, Harris said in an email Monday to civic leaders and musicians.
“I cannot express how sorry I am,” she said. “In fact, I am devastated, as I am sure his family (is).”