Suspect wounded during raid by 3 New Orleans law enforcement agencies _lowres

Steven Ellis

Law enforcement officers fired on a man inside his home in the 7th Ward early Thursday while executing a search warrant for drugs, according to New Orleans police.

About 12:30 a.m., Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies, along with members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, raided the home in the 2400 block of Pauger Street.

As they forced open the door after announcing themselves, a 52-year-old man inside the house fired at officers, said Tyler Gamble, a New Orleans Police Department spokesman.

Col. John Fortunato, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said two JPSO officers and one ICE agent returned fire, wounding the man, Steven Ellis, in the lower leg.

Ellis was taken to Interim LSU Hospital, but authorities said his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

No law enforcement officers were injured.

New Orleans police officers were assisting in the operation by manning the perimeter of the house, Gamble said, and all were wearing body cameras. All of the body cameras were working and activated, he said.

The NOPD officers did not fire their weapons, Gamble said.

Ellis faces eight counts of attempted murder, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Fortunato said authorities seized two 9mm handguns, one .380-caliber handgun, one .45-caliber handgun, 14.5 ounces of cocaine and about an ounce of marijuana.

Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman, wouldn’t comment specifically on the raid, citing the ongoing investigation. But he said that, in general, ICE will take part in investigations involving contraband — guns or illegal drugs — moving from state to state and country to country. “Any federal crime that involves an overseas presence or anything being illegally moved across a border, ICE could be part of investigating it,” Cox said.

Cox said ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the incident. At this point, it’s not known whether the bullet that struck Ellis came from the ICE officer’s gun or from the gun of a JPSO deputy.

JPSO is leading the narcotics investigation, while the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau is looking into the shooting incident. Members of the NOPD consent decree monitoring team and the Independent Police Monitor’s Office were notified of the incident and responded to the scene.

“NOPD detectives spent the morning actively investigating the scene and collecting evidence related to the shooting. At this time, we cannot provide details on the number of shots that were fired or what led to the shooting,” Gamble said.

Ellis has prior arrests for aggravated battery, aggravated assault, domestic battery, obstruction of justice, distribution of crack cocaine, illegal carrying of weapons and other crimes.

Follow Benjamin Oreskes on Twitter, @boreskes.