Gunfire erupted early Monday in New Orleans East, claiming the life of a Lafayette man who was visiting his mother for the holidays. 

Family members identified the victim as Robert Smith, a 38-year-old welder who was the brother of former New York Jets and New Orleans VooDoo wide receiver Courtney Smith

New Orleans police arrived at the scene shortly after 7:30 a.m. and found Robert Smith lying in the front yard of a home in the 7900 block of Lamb Road, near New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office said he suffered a fatal gunshot wound.  

Family members gathered near the scene said the man had been in the area visiting relatives for the holidays. They said Robert Smith grew up in New Orleans and went to Carver High School.

"He was never in any kind of trouble," said one family member, who declined to give her name. 

Police had not made any arrests in the killing or named any suspects as of late Monday afternoon. It was unclear whether detectives had determined a motive. 

Robert Smith's fatal shooting marked the 173rd homicide of the year in New Orleans. That number is up from the 157 killings the city tallied in 2015. 

The shooting baffled neighbors, including some who said they hadn't even heard gunfire.

One man who lives in the area and declined to give his name said he heard his dogs "acting up" early Monday and looked outside to see a large number of police vehicles. 

Courtney Smith told nola.com that his mother heard gunfire about 6:30 a.m. and looked outside to see her son lying on the ground. He described his brother as "goofy" and "fun-loving." 

New Orleans police asked anyone with information about the shooting to call detectives at (504) 658-5300.