Ngo Hanh shook his head in disbelief, leaning against the trunk of a car in the driveway of his friend’s New Orleans East apartment Tuesday afternoon.
It was just Friday that Hanh had returned with his friend Hoang Vu from a 10-day stint on a shrimping boat in the Gulf of Mexico. Vu, 44, had been his usual hardworking self, he said, and the pair had cleared $1,400 in pay.
On Monday, Vu turned up dead inside his apartment in the 14400 block of Peltier Drive.
Police, who discovered the body about 8 p.m., have identified neither motives nor suspects in the killing, but the death has rattled the Vietnamese-American community concentrated off Alcee Fortier Boulevard.
Acquaintances said Vu was the son of an American serviceman and a Vietnamese mother. He immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.
Vu worked at the Viet My Market before and after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans East, said Thanh Vu, whose family owns the small grocery. Homeless from time to time, he had lived with their family for a number of years after the storm.
Thanh Vu, no relation to the victim, recalled that Hoang Vu would accept whatever task he was given inside the store — “hard work, or dirty.”
But Vu, whom she described as a simple, gentle man, was also too willing to say yes to members of the wrong crowd, and he had a hard time staying away from the bottle, she said.
“He never said no, always said yes,” said the store owner. “If he had $5, he would give it to you right away, no questions asked.”
Hoang Vu’s decision to go out on the boats was motivated by a desire to get away from his drinking problems, Thanh Vu believed.
Hanh, 51, said he was close to his friend while they were on the water together. But back on land, Vu often retreated to the apartment above a barber shop on Peltier Drive that he shared with a woman described by one person as his wife and by another as his girlfriend.
Police have not said whether she was there when someone shot Vu.
The residence was empty Tuesday afternoon.
Homicide Detective Jamaane Roy is investigating Vu’s death and can be reached at (504) 658-5300.