Residents on a quiet Gentilly street awoke Friday to a gruesome scene — a quadruple shooting that left a young mother and her two sons dead, with her 12-year-old daughter in serious condition at the hospital.
The shooting occurred before dawn, when New Orleans police officers were dispatched to a tan brick home in the 4200 block of Touro Street.
Though some neighbors said they didn’t hear any gunshots, officers who arrived at the home shortly after 4 a.m. found Monique Smith, 30, and her sons Jumyrin Smith, 6, and Justin Simms, 10, shot to death inside the house.
Also wounded by gunfire was Monique Smith's 12-year-old daughter, A’Miya Smith, who was rushed to a hospital.
Smith and her two sons were all shot in the head, according to sources cited by WWL-TV. Police would not confirm how severely A’Miya was injured but said the girl was in serious condition.
Within hours, family members arrived on the scene, many of them screaming and falling to the ground in disbelief.
At one point, a crying man rushed toward the house, yelling, "That's my daughter! Those are my grandkids!” before being led away by officers.
A half dozen people gathered around a woman who collapsed on the street crying. "Oh no. Oh, Jesus. Oh, Lord," she sobbed as officers led her away.
Officers stayed on the scene for hours, canvassing the area and speaking with neighbors. A member of the Louisiana SPCA was seen carrying the family’s tiny white dog, wrapped in a towel, out of the home.
Eventually, three bags containing the victim’s bodies were carried out in slow succession. Onlookers gasped and said prayers.
Addressing reporters outside the family’s home, Police Superintendent Michael Harrison called the murders “horrific.”
“This is horrible. It breaks everybody’s heart,” he said. "Every murder breaks a heart. But to find that children were involved … it really rattles everybody. That's why you see us all out here."
What prompted the massacre was unknown, and the Police Department remained tight-lipped, releasing only scant details.
Shortly after the killings were reported, Crimestoppers announced a cash reward of $5,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the killer.
Family members told The Advocate that Smith had lived with her husband inside the home at Touro and Mandolin streets for about a year. Police did not release any information on the husband’s whereabouts and did not say whether he is considered a suspect.
Smith worked at Ted’s Frostop, an Uptown diner, according to her cousin, Chrisey Smith, who described her as a devoted mother who loved spending time with family.
"She was a hard-working young mom, and when she got with her family and friends she liked to have a good time," Smith said. "She loved all her children — her children were everything to her. She worked and spent time with her kids, that was it."
All three children attended Samuel J. Green Charter School. Justin, who was in fifth grade, and A’Miya, a seventh-grader, were both scheduled to receive awards for perfect attendance at a school assembly Friday, said Dominique Harris, a spokesman for First Line Schools, the charter group that operates Green.
In a letter to parents and faculty, school director Ava Lee said that staff will provide grief counseling to students in coming days.
“This is a very sad time for students and staff, but please know that the Green family will be available to comfort and support you," Lee said. "We know that the students will be a great loss to their family, friends and also to our school.”
Neighbors of the Smiths were shocked that the city's notorious gun violence had arrived in their normally quiet enclave.
Denise Johnson, who lives around the corner, said she frequently saw the two young boys playing outside the home and getting picked up and dropped off by a school bus.
"I would see them sitting outside and playing with that little white dog," Johnson said. "This is such a quiet neighborhood. This is just terrible — those kids didn’t even have a chance.”
“It’s devastating,” said Johnnisha Groomes, 24, who said she recently moved to the neighborhood from out of state.
“It’s quiet and peaceful," she said. "I walk around here and I feel comfortable and safe, but then something like this happens.”
Samuel A. Smith, 82, who lives across the street, said he rarely saw anyone at the house, sometimes seeing no one for a week at a time.
"This is surprising," Smith said. "It's a good neighborhood, and everyone watches out for everybody. This never happens around here."
Anyone with information on the killings is asked to contact Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111 or online at www.crimestopppersgno.org.