New Orleans police on Monday sought to calm the nerves of Algiers residents after a violent few days in which three people were killed in a series of at least a half-dozen shootings.
Investigators have not made any arrests in the shootings but said it was clear the victims had been singled out by their assailants.
“These aren’t stranger-type cases,” said Cmdr. Doug Eckert, who heads the New Orleans Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division. “We feel certain that they were targeted.”
Police said they have not found any evidence to suggest the shootings were related, though they stressed that all of the investigations remain in their early stages.
“While we have seen some similarities, we’re not ready to say any two crimes are related at this point,” said Cmdr. Ceasar Ruffin, who leads the NOPD’s 4th District. “Our detectives continue to collect evidence in an attempt to connect the dots.”
Ruffin blamed the outbreak of violence on “neighborhood disputes” and said the department has increased its patrols in the “affected areas.”
No suspects have been named in the shootings.
“We will bring these guys to justice,” Ruffin said. “These perpetrators decided to grab guns to solve their disputes, and we’re not going to tolerate that.”
The first in the series of Algiers shootings happened Thursday night when a 28-year-old man was shot while riding in a vehicle in the 4400 block of Gen. de Gaulle Drive before 11 p.m. Authorities said gunmen opened fire on the man from another vehicle, striking him several times. He was taken to a hospital.
Then, about 3 p.m. Friday, a man’s body was found under a home in the 1000 block of Pacific Avenue. Several spent bullet casings were found at the scene. The identity of that victim has not been released.
Later Friday, Tollette “Tonka” George, a former Alcorn State wide receiver and New Orleans high school football standout, was found fatally shot at Vespasian Street and Lauradale Drive. George, who had been shot multiple times, was found lying on the street. The 23-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
Another man was fatally shot in Algiers on Sunday night. Errol Gant Jr., 38, was found after being gunned down in the 2800 block of Kent Drive. He, too, was declared dead at the scene. Investigators were searching for a dark-colored SUV that they said is of interest in the case.
Two more shootings happened early Monday. The first occurred after 1 a.m., when a 17-year-old male was found suffering from gunshot wounds in an abandoned apartment complex in the 5600 block of Tullis Drive.
About five hours later, a gunman forced his way into an apartment in the 3400 block of Garden Oaks Drive. A 28-year-old man was shot in the right thigh, police said.
Despite the recent rash of violence, police said there have been fewer murders in Algiers through the first half of 2016 than in the first six months of 2015. There have been five murders reported in the 4th District this year, police said, compared with 11 over the same period last year.
“We’ve had a good year in reduction of violence,” Ruffin said.