Car chase ends with arrest in Gentilly; police probing links to spate of armed robberies _lowres

Advocate photo by Matt Hinton -- Police set up a perimeter Thursday evening in the Gentilly area in the search for three alleged carjacking suspects.

New Orleans police arrested a juvenile in Gentilly Terrace and were searching for two more people after a car chase Thursday evening that investigators believe may be connected to a spate of armed robberies and carjackings in the past week.

At the heart of the developing investigation was a silver Toyota Camry ditched on Lotus Street near Gladiolus Street that 5th District Cmdr. Frank Young said may be connected to “multiple armed robberies.”

Police had mentioned a silver vehicle in the description of numerous armed robberies and carjackings reported Wednesday and Thursday.

Young said police throughout the city had been “aggressively” searching for the car for two days.

A little past 6 p.m. Thursday, police spotted such a car at Elysian Fields Avenue and the Interstate 10 on-ramp.

The car and its three occupants made it to Lotus Street, police said, before everyone inside bailed out. As police swarmed the area, one male juvenile was arrested. Officers from the NOPD, Levee Police and State Police — including SWAT team members armed with long guns — set up a large perimeter searching for the other two.

In one sign of how far-reaching the investigation could be, top brass from at least three police districts — the 1st, 3rd and 5th — were on the scene of the manhunt.

Four armed robberies in the Uptown and Carrollton areas on Wednesday involved a silver vehicle, according to a police log of major offenses.

About 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, a 30-year-old man was robbed in the 3500 block of Dryades Street by two men in a silver vehicle that pulled up beside him.

A person in a silver vehicle attempted an armed robbery in the 5800 block of McKenna Street about 6:25 p.m. Wednesday. Then a gunman in a silver vehicle pulled off an armed robbery in the 8300 block of Willow Street about 10 minutes later.

Minutes after that, according to police, a 60-year-old man painting a house in the 8700 block of Spruce Street was approached by a man who held a gun to his head and demanded his wallet. The victim complied, and the robber fled in a silver vehicle.

The city’s silvery stick-up spree continued Thursday. About 2 p.m., according to police, a woman exiting her vehicle in the 2700 block of Onzaga Street near the Fair Grounds was approached by a gunman wearing a skeleton mask who demanded her purse. He fled in a silver sedan, police said.

Twenty minutes later, a man was approached from behind in the 4600 block of Francisco Verrett Drive in New Orleans East. A gunman, described as a black male with a light complexion, about 5-foot-7, took the victim’s property and fled in a light gray vehicle.

Then there were two more hold-ups, according to Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble.

A carjacking occurred in the 2700 block of Decatur Street in the Bywater neighborhood. Minutes later, an armed robbery occurred in the 700 block of Congress Street, also in Bywater.

All of those hold-ups followed a Memorial Day weekend in which police recorded an astounding 26 armed robberies and carjackings in New Orleans.

Kenner police on Tuesday, meanwhile, arrested a 15-year-old boy after a 28-year-old man was robbed of his silver 2017 Ford Escape in the 3700 block of West Louisiana State Drive by a gunman in a silver Toyota Camry. Police said two other people, including the gunman, escaped.

Kenner Police Lt. Brian McGregor said it was a “no-brainer” for investigators to try to connect the Kenner carjacking with the incidents involving a car of a similar description in New Orleans. McGregor noted that on Sunday, a gunman with two partners stole a silver Toyota Camry from outside a Wal-Mart store in New Orleans East.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said Monday that investigators believed many of the weekend armed robberies were committed by the same group of juveniles.