Two men were slain at a Broadmoor house late Monday morning during a violent Memorial Day weekend in New Orleans.
Over the course of the holiday weekend, dozens of New Orleanians had a gun pointed at them in robberies and carjackings, and a 35-year-old man was shot Monday afternoon in the 7th Ward.
From Friday through Monday morning, according to police logs, 35 people were the victims of 23 separate armed robberies and carjackings that spanned the city, from Uptown to the French Quarter to New Orleans East.
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said detectives believe many of the armed robberies may have been the work of a few small groups of perpetrators.
Police classified the shooting in the 3300 block of Gen. Taylor Street in Broadmoor as a double murder.
The double slaying sent anguished relatives rushing past police tape in an attempt to discover the fate of their loved ones, two men whose names were not released by the Coroner’s Office.
Officers called to the scene just before 11:30 a.m. found an unknown man lying on the front porch and a second, 18-year-old man who had been shot several times lying inside next to a stairwell.
Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
An hour later, as neighbors gathered on porch steps under the hot midday son, a woman rushed past police tape toward the pink-and-white, two-story house where the killings occurred.
“What happened?” she shouted before an officer blocked her way.
A woman living nearby, who declined to give her name, said she heard between eight and 10 shots as she was cooking. The noise was so loud that it sounded like the bullets were coming into her house, she said.
“It was such a rapid-fire succession,” the woman said. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
Although authorities have not named the slain men, WWL-TV reported, citing relatives, that they were Faisal Puckett and Charles Bannister, both 18.
Harrison stopped by the scene to confer with homicide detectives. Less than an hour later, he appeared at police headquarters to give reporters an update on the weekend’s spate of armed robberies, which he said was “unusual.”
A dozen armed robberies and carjackings were reported throughout the city in a nine-hour span Saturday night and early Sunday morning, police said — the highest one-day total since Jan. 2, 2012.
That spree followed two armed robberies, a shooting and a carjacking in the previous 24 hours.
Then, between Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning, police said, eight more people were robbed of their belongings or vehicles in six separate incidents.
Victims of the often brazen crimes included a man getting out of an Uber vehicle in the French Quarter and three women in a Wal-Mart parking lot in New Orleans East.
About 4:20 p.m. Sunday, police said, a 23-year-old woman in the 3800 block of Carondelet Street was forced to surrender her gold Hyundai Santa Fe, Louisiana license place ZZX 232, to a gun-toting man.
An hour later, according to police, four men in a dark-colored vehicle forced a 68-year-old man in Pontchartrain Park near Press Drive and Pressburg Street to give them his wallet.
Minutes later, a 47-year-old man mowing his lawn in the 7900 block of Bass Street in New Orleans East was approached by two men with guns. When he told them he didn’t have his keys or wallet on him, they punched him in the head and face.
Then, about 6 p.m., a gunman forced the women in the Bullard Avenue Wal-Mart parking lot to surrender a 2009 silver Toyota Camry, Louisiana license plate ZAM 630, and money. Police said the gunman was a light-skinned black male between 18 and 20, about 5-feet-5 with a thin build and short hair, wearing a red baseball cap, a gray shirt and blue jeans. He was aided by two other men in a black Nissan Sentra.
About 1:45 a.m. Monday, police said, New Orleans East was the scene of another carjacking when a 27-year-old motorist was cut off near Chef Menteur Highway and Good Drive by two men who hopped out of their vehicle and pointed a gun at him. The men got into his vehicle and fled, according to a police offense log.
Finally, a 32-year-old man told police that as he got out of an Uber vehicle about 2:45 a.m. in the 900 block of Toulouse Street in the French Quarter, he was approached by a man with a knife. The assailant struck him in the face, the victim told officers, then stole his iPhone and $2,000 in cash.
Harrison said detectives are looking closely into the possibility that a small number of juveniles may have been behind many of the weekend’s hold-ups. Investigators believe that some of the spike may result from the fact that teenagers are out of school.
“There are several descriptions that are very similar,” Harrison said. “We do believe that there are several groups of individuals who have committed multiple armed robberies.”
Harrison noted that despite the wild weekend, the number of armed robberies in the city is actually down slightly so far this year compared with 2015.
Crime analyst Jeff Asher said he had counted 339 armed robberies as of May 29, compared with 352 at that point last year. There had been 57 carjackings reported this year, compared with 55 in the same period in 2015.
The Broadmoor killings meant that 2016 is the second year in a row in which a double homicide occurred on Memorial Day.
Asher said, however, that unlike in some other cities — like Chicago, where the grim toll perennially makes national headlines — the holiday weekend has not traditionally been a violent one in New Orleans.
“This concept of a violent Memorial Day weekend is not necessarily a longtime concept,” Asher said. “It’s something that appears, at least in the data, really to have taken fact in the last two years.”
Even as the long weekend began to draw to a close, the violence kept coming.
A 35-year-old man was shot in the 2200 block of St. Anthony Street about 4:15 p.m. Monday before running around the corner and collapsing, according to police and a friend of the victim.
Pete Gusman, 57, said he was sleeping inside his house on North Miro Street when he heard a loud pop. He figured it was a neighborhood kid setting off a firecracker, he said. But seconds later, Gusman said, he heard his friend pounding on his door, begging to be let in.
“I thought he was kidding,” Gusman said.
Gusman opened his door to see his friend, whom he described as an employee of a French Quarter store, collapse on his porch in a pool of blood.
Police said the victim was shot once in the chest in the 2200 block of St. Anthony before running around the corner to Gusman’s home.
Gusman said he could not think of any reason why someone would want to harm his friend.
The crime was just as shocking to another neighbor.
“Them people don’t bother nobody,” said Nicole Williams, who said she often sees the victim and another friend hanging out on the street. “They sit on their porch; they listen to their music.”
Williams speculated that the shooting might have been a botched armed robbery or else involved some petty money dispute.
Around an hour after the shooting, a crime scene technician placed the victim’s black Boston Red Sox cap into an evidence bag. Then firefighters hosed his blood off Gusman’s steps.