The red dot from the laser sight on the silver revolver bounced up and down on the white jacket of the woman, while a second armed man in a ski mask swiped cellphones, cash and groceries from her fiancé.
The couple, both in their 50s, had just returned from buying wine, Brussels sprouts and salmon at Costco for an evening of watching television at the woman’s mother’s house, when armed men burst forth from a nearby bush and demanded everything they had.
“They didn’t cuss and they were polite,” said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was afraid for his safety. “But they told us, ‘If you don’t keep it down, we are going to hurt you.’ ”
The armed robbery, which happened about 6:25 p.m. Sunday in the 7000 block of Camp Street, was the second of four stick-ups that occurred Uptown within an hour, a brazen spate of crimes that ended a few hours later when four suspects were apprehended in the Freret neighborhood in a stolen SUV after a brief police chase and manhunt.
Police arrested Morris Smith, 17; Taman Martin, 18; Darrell Quinn, 19; and Tevin Quinn, 20, in connection with the series of robberies, which investigators believe may have extended far beyond Sunday.
In a news conference Monday afternoon, 2nd District Cmdr. Paul Noel said the tally of armed robberies the four men are responsible for will likely grow to between eight and 12.
Sunday’s crime spree allegedly kicked off about 6:10 p.m. in the 5100 block of Camp Street.
Surveillance video from a home showed a 28-year-old man walking down the street as an SUV pulled up behind him. Two men emerged and shoved the victim against the wall. One man stuck a gun in his face, while the other frisked him, taking his wallet.
Detectives were able to view the video and observed a gray 2007 Toyota 4Runner SUV fleeing the scene.
About 15 minutes later, the couple with the groceries was robbed only blocks away, on the fringe of Audubon Park.
According to the man, as they sat in the police car talking to detectives, they could hear the police scanner buzzing with reports of nearby incidents.
Police said that about 6:45 p.m., a 62-year-old woman walking with groceries in the 5100 block of Willow Street became the robbers’ next victim. The men pushed her to the ground, and she began screaming.
Fifteen minutes later, a 31-year-old man was approaching his residence in the 2100 block of Fern Street when a man with a gun demanded he get on the ground. Two robbers took his phone and wallet.
In all the incidents, victims reported the suspects fled in a gray Toyota 4Runner.
According to police, officers soon spotted a vehicle fitting that description near Louisiana and South Claiborne avenues. The vehicle sped off when officers put on their sirens.
The men eventually ditched the SUV and sprinted off, guns in hand, near Loyola Avenue and Jena Street.
Police apprehended them with the help of a K-9 unit, according to a statement from the department.
According to court records, officers confiscated two guns at the scene, a black .40-caliber handgun and a small silver revolver with a laser.
Martin allegedly told police back at the station that he also was involved in an armed robbery that happened Christmas Day.
Police also have pegged the group for a Dec. 22 armed robbery of a 45-year-old man on Henry Clay Avenue near Coliseum Street.
In that holdup, they allegedly stole a concealed weapon from the victim; police said it was recovered during Sunday’s arrest.
Police said the men also appear to be likely culprits in an armed robbery that happened Saturday night at Camp and Robert streets, a block from where the first robbery happened Sunday evening. The victims in that robbery also described a gray 4Runner fleeing the scene.
According to Noel, at least two of the men lived in the Uptown area.
He said police executed several search warrants and found a smorgasbord of stolen property, in addition to ski masks and a pellet gun.
Residents near the crime scenes said they were concerned by the slew of robberies, but added that they were aware Uptown has never been immune to violent crime.
Brian Gibbs, who lives in the 5100 block of Camp Street, spent Monday afternoon pulling surveillance video from the network of cameras he has installed outside his home.
Gibbs said that in the past he’s caught people on camera walking up and down the street attempting to unlock parked cars.
He made plans Monday to upgrade his surveillance equipment to the highest video quality possible, and he expressed relief that the assailants in the attacks apparently had been caught.
“I’m not asking for special treatment. This shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere, whether it’s Uptown or New Orleans East,” Gibbs said.
“They held the entire area hostage. These guys need to have the book thrown at them.”
All four men were booked on multiple counts of armed robbery and attempted robbery.
They were together again — this time in matching orange jumpsuits — in Magistrate Court on Monday afternoon.
Bail was set at $160,000 for Smith, $460,000 each for Martin and Darrell Quinn, and $670,000 for Tevin Quinn, who was awaiting trial on a theft charge at the time of his arrest.