DONALDSONVILLE — A 9-year-old boy asleep in his bed was struck in the leg by gunfire aimed at his home early Wednesday.
The boy, who suffered a flesh wound, has been released from the hospital, said Lt. Col. Bobby Webre with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Thank God” the child’s wound was not life-threatening, said Maj. Kevin Hanna, with the Sheriff’s Office.
But the shooting has again raised the call to address the growing level of violence in this west bank community.
The multiple rounds were fired around 3 a.m. into the mobile home at the corner of St. Patrick Street and 2nd Street in Donaldsonville, Hanna said. “We don’t know if it was a drive-by or(someone)walking.”
Three other people were in the house at the time: the child’s mother and two of her other children, Webre said.
“They have no idea” who may have fired the shots, Hanna said of the family.
On Wednesday afternoon, the family was away from their home as detectives continued scouring the scene. “Our guys are still working on it, following up leads,” Hanna said.
Several bullet holes could be seen in the side of the mobile home, as well as a bullet hole through a glass window.
The area of St. Patrick Street, which is also La. 945, has been the scene of three shooting fatalities in recent months.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the Jan. 26 shootings of Chad Nichols and Benny Booker at a mobile home in a neighborhood farther west, off St. Patrick Street.
On March 10, Michael Stewart was shot at a home in a different neighborhood off St. Patrick Street and later died at a hospital.
Before he died, Stewart told investigators the person who shot him was Shawn Broom, of Donaldsonville, who later surrendered to deputies.
“It’s very difficult and disheartening when you see so many young people have disregard for human life,” Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan said Wednesday afternoon.
“Where is it coming from? I think most of it, the rule of it, is drugs,” he said. “Leaders, not just elected officials, but pastors and leaders of organizations, we have to all come together to educate people that love is the key and to get to the root of the problem of all that hatred.”
Neighbors gathered near the home where the child was wounded Wednesday said they hadn’t heard the gunfire that peppered the mobile home that morning.
“Donaldsonville has had more than its share” of crime recently, “way more than its share,” said Lawrence Johnson, 52.
“We were born down this street,” he said of himself and his siblings, indicating nearby Second Street. “It wasn’t like that. … Everybody was one, everybody got along.”
Johnson said he and his sisters and brothers grew up on another nearby street, next door to the mother of the child who was wounded in Wednesday’s gunfire.
“She didn’t bother nobody, her children didn’t bother nobody. It’s unreal,” Johnson said.
“They’ve always been good boys,” his sister, Sharlene Johnson, said of the children.
The Johnsons and several other neighbors said violence began cropping up in the city five or six years ago.
Lawrence Johnson said their neighborhood, west of the railroad track in Donaldsonville, has been known for years as the “back of town.”
East of the railroad is called “uptown,” he said.
For generations, residents of “back of town” have all gotten along, he said.
“The younger generation is getting mixed up with the wrong crowd,” said an elderly woman who preferred not to be named.
“We all have kids and grandkids” and want things to improve, Lawrence Johnson said.
A recent development might offer a new tool in the fight against crime in the Donaldsonville community.
In March, the Sheriff’s Office signed an agreement with the Ascension Parish School Board to use a building on the former campus of West Ascension Elementary, no longer in use, for a satellite office of the Sheriff’s Office.
The former elementary school, which opened in 1966 and was closed in 2005, is on St. Patrick Street, just two blocks from the scene of Wednesday’s gunfire.
Anyone with information on the shootings may contact the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office at (225) 621-4636, by texting at 847411 or by calling Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.
Advocate staff reporter David J. Mitchell contributed to this report.