A well-liked 49-year-old “neighborhood barber” was shot to death shortly after noon Sunday while cutting hair in front of a house in the Cut-Off section of Algiers.
His customer was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the shoulder, New Orleans police said.
The barber was cutting the hair of a 23-year-old man about 12:15 p.m. in the 2800 block of Kent Drive, at the corner of Gen. Meyer Avenue, just downriver from the Cut-Off Recreation Center.
A man walked up and began firing, killing the barber and sending the younger man to the hospital in a private vehicle, said Officer Frank Robertson, a New Orleans Police Department spokesman.
Detectives were trying to determine whether the shooter was gunning for one of the two victims or perhaps someone else present who wasn’t hit.
“We don’t know at this time if either of them was the intended target,” Robertson said.
The midday shooting drew a crowd of nearly 100 neighbors and onlookers, lined up behind crime-scene tape that stretched along Gen. Meyer Avenue.
Under the shade of a tree in the yard of nearby Asbury United Methodist Church, a gray-haired woman sat in the grass and wept into her cellphone.
The slain man was well-known in the neighborhood for his friendly ways, said another woman, Chontelle, who declined to give her last name.
“He was good people,” Chontelle said. “He would cut your hair and look out for the children. He would always give you a hug when he saw you. Nobody has anything bad to say about him.”
One man watching the investigation said he had known the shooting victim for 20 years. He said the barber would charge $10 or $15 for a haircut, whatever the customer could afford, and would make him laugh the whole time — “never a dull moment.”
He would set up anywhere to do the job.
“Wherever he could plug his clippers up at,” the man said. “He didn’t have no generator.”
Fourth District NOPD Cmdr. Shawn Ferguson said Cut-Off is a community where residents still know one another. A suburban neighborhood far from downtown New Orleans, its small houses have large, fenced-in yards next to the Mississippi River levee, where the tops of freighter ships could be seen moving slowly while the investigation proceeded.
“This is an old neighborhood where everyone grew up together,” Ferguson said. “It’s a family.”
One neighbor said she was working with her college-bound son in preparation for an upcoming ACT college-admission test when the shooting took place.
She said the neighborhood has plenty of good, hardworking families but — like all of New Orleans — not enough activities for young people, jobs for adults or services for the mentally ill.
“I’m trying to get him off to college in the midst of all this,” the woman said. “It’s really a good neighborhood, except for these kinds of incidents.”
Homicide Detective Bruce Brueggeman is in charge of the investigation and can be reached at (504) 658-5300.