The victim in one of a series of armed robberies said to target Hispanics in New Orleans gave police an unexpected assist when he spotted one of his assailants on a Mid-City street corner, according to an arrest report.
The victim called police about 10 p.m. Sunday to report that the man who had held him up Dec. 28 on South Lopez Street was standing near Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway. Police stopped the man, Robert Jenkins, 35, and brought him in for questioning.
Inside the 6th District Station, according to the arrest report, Jenkins gave detectives an unusual alibi: He claimed that he “was probably with his girlfriend on Tulane Avenue prostituting” at the time of the robbery. Detective Walter Edmond apparently didn’t buy the story and arrested Jenkins on a count of armed robbery.
Jenkins has been booked in only one stick-up, but 6th District Cmdr. Ronnie Stevens said police believe he may be connected to at least two other robberies in or near Gert Town, as well as incidents in the 1st District. All of the armed robberies, Stevens said, targeted Hispanics, and police are still looking for a second suspect. Armed robberies targeting Hispanics are a long-standing problem in New Orleans, with construction workers sometimes described as “walking ATMs” for robbers since Hurricane Katrina.
The first armed robbery in the most recent string happened in the 1200 block of South Salcedo Street about 10 p.m. Dec. 26, according to police logs. A 36-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman were approached by two men. One had a gun, the other a knife, according to police. They demanded the victims’ property and then fled.
Two robbers were again involved in the robbery on South Lopez Street, which happened about 9 p.m. The victim said he was approached at his home by two men in black hoodies and black pants. As in the previous incident, one had a gun and the other a knife. The gunman, who had a “rough-looking beard,” pressed the weapon against the victim’s head, according to a police report. The victim was then robbed of his cash, cellphone and car keys.
Stevens linked those armed robberies to another one Saturday in the 1400 block of South Gayoso Street that involved a single assailant. Police said a 39-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman were renovating a property when an armed man approached them on a bike and stole a wallet, cellphone and cash. Jenkins was arrested the next day. The 34-year-old victim of the South Lopez Street robbery said he recognized Jenkins because of his beard and because he got a clear look at his assailant’s face.
Stevens said he had concentrated officers in the area where the robberies occurred, and no more had been reported.
The armed robberies came days after a Hispanic man was gunned down in Mid-City after what police described in a preliminary report as an armed robbery gone wrong, although police said they have not found any evidence to connect the killing to the stick-ups.
Rudy Benavidez Zamora, 23, was leaving his vehicle in the 400 block of South Salcedo Street about 7 p.m. Dec. 19, according to a police offense log, when two men tried to rob a friend of his who had just emerged from the vehicle. Police said one of the would-be robbers fired two shots while fleeing the scene, striking Benavidez, who died.
Tyler Gamble, a Police Department spokesman, said detectives have not ruled out a connection between the armed robberies and the shooting of Benavidez but have not found any evidence to link them.