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Claborne Carter said he was just looking to help the community when he decided to build a house on a vacant lot in the Lower 9th Ward and move back to his hometown after 22 years in Georgia.

Just over a week after he got back, though, Carter, 53, was shot while exchanging gunfire with trespassers on his property in the 5900 block of North Villere Street.

Carter was fine physically after being treated at the scene Friday. But walking right back into the violence that led him to raise his family in a different state? That was more difficult to deal with.

“It’s just something you shouldn’t have to endure in a city,” he said. “Too many people don’t have the opportunity to walk away from a gunbattle like my son and I did and be able to talk about it. It’s something we’re coming down there to help out the community to try and make a difference, you know, after being away for 22 years.”

Carter said the incident started after he saw a man walking over construction materials on his property. After he advised him not to, Carter said, the man started cursing at him before meeting up with another man.

Then, “next thing I knew, shots rang out.”

Carter and his son returned fire with the two men, with Carter suffering a graze wound in the shootout.

Police later arrested 26-year-old Shawn Tate Jr. and 29-year-old Dright Love, booking both on aggravated assault with a firearm among other counts related to the shooting.

Both were soon released on bail. 

Carter said he heard afterward from frightened neighbors that the pair had been “terrorizing the neighborhood.”

But Carter wasn’t sticking around — he left town the next day.

After doing some fishing and just taking “a little breath,” though, Carter decided to come back Tuesday to see out the job on his house, committing to move back to the city of his birth despite being shot after being back just a few days.

He said he knows the area he’s working in is a risk, though, and that in terms of safety the city hasn’t really changed since he grew up in the 1970s.

That’s why he carries a gun.

“I know what type of area we’re working in, so I’ll be up on my safety,” Carter said.

He said he’s also committed to bettering New Orleans, and that if getting shot was in some way a help, so be it.

“I’m just glad we were able to make a difference and get them two off the streets, even though we had to have our life on the line, my son and I,” Carter said.

Follow Nick Reimann on Twitter, @nicksreimann.