As children played Friday morning on the grounds of Einstein Charter School in New Orleans East, a handyman across the street was surveying pools of blood and shattered glass left on the floor of the apartment where a man and a woman died in a brutal home invasion sometime overnight.
“Definitely didn’t expect to wake up to anything like this,” he said with a shake of his head. Then he went back to driving nails in the door frame of the house in the 13000 block of Granville Street, trying to piece back together a door ripped apart in a night of violence that claimed the lives of 26-year-old Diamonique Lewis and 25-year-old Louis Brooks.
The handyman declined to give his name, as did a next-door neighbor, who said she last saw Lewis about 10 p.m. Thursday, standing at the same door with her two boys.
An hour later, the neighbor heard a child crying. Getting off the bus around then, the neighbor’s mother heard gunshots. Then there was silence.
“I had no idea what was going on until the police came knocking on my door at 4 a.m.,” the neighbor said.
Another neighbor, Jose Cabrara, said he heard gunshots about 10:30 p.m. Then he saw two men run away from the house and across the street toward the school.
At least two bullet holes were visible in the door. Inside the mostly sparse apartment, half of a small, one-story house, there was little in the way of decoration. A child’s bike sat on the floor. Bright orange packets of cheese and peanut butter crackers lay on a side table. And proudly displayed on the table near the kitchen door was a single framed portrait of two smiling young boys.
Officer Frank Robertson, a New Orleans Police Department spokesman, said police went to the residence after receiving a call about 3 a.m. and found both victims dead of multiple gunshot wounds. Further details of the investigation were not available.
A woman who identified herself as the landlady could hardly believe the scene she found after her sister told her the house she owned was on the TV news.
“Very much a mess,” she said. “It meets you at the door.”
The landlady said Lewis was her tenant, a young mother — of boys aged 4 and 5 — who moved there in January from Dallas and lived with a boyfriend.
Police said the children are safe elsewhere with relatives.
The landlady couldn’t fathom a motive.
“I don’t know what they were going to take,” she said. “What’s worth this girl’s life?”
WWL-TV reporter Paul Murphy contributed to this report.