Ronald Lewis was just waking up about 7 a.m. Wednesday when he heard a thunderous crash outside his house on Tupelo Street in the Lower 9th Ward. He rushed to his front door and saw a man lying on top of his fence, bleeding.
“To be honest with you, I thought he was dead because he wasn’t moving,” he said.
Lewis shouted to his wife Charlotte to call 911. When the man let out a cry for help, Lewis told him it was on the way. Firefighters, EMS and police arrived quickly. Before he was whisked away in an ambulance, the 36-year-old victim told police that his injuries — suffered in a vehicle-bicycle collision — were no accident.
Within a half-hour, Lewis said, his neighbor and longtime friend George Quinn walked up to the scene to make a stunning confession: “I did this.”
Quinn, 56, now sits in the Orleans Parish jail on $160,000 bail, accused of ramming his Jeep into the cyclist in a rough act of street justice. Police said his victim, who lives on Deslonde Street in the Lower 9th Ward, was taken to the hospital with severe damage to his pelvis.
Police said that after Quinn acknowledged his involvement in the crash, he told them a story of vengeance gone wrong. Earlier Wednesday morning, Quinn said, a friend whom he knew only as “Slick” had called to tell him that a man was trying to break into his 1996 Jeep Cherokee in the 1000 block of St. Maurice Avenue, according to an arrest report.
Quinn told police he hopped into the Jeep and started chasing the man he suspected of attempting the burglary as the man fled on a bicycle, according to the warrant. Quinn said he circled around to Tupelo Street, trying to find the suspect.
In one version of Quinn’s story to the police, the man on the bicycle swerved in front of his vehicle and caused the collision.
When he was questioned further, however, he admitted that he was driving against traffic on Tupelo Street trying to find the man.
Quinn then told police, according to the arrest report, that he accidentally struck the man on the bicycle while trying to block his path with his Jeep. He claimed that he was unable to brake and that his Jeep struck the man and hit the fence in front of the house on Tupelo Street.
At this point, the “discrepancies” in Quinn’s stories became too much, police said. They handcuffed him and put him in the back of a police unit.
Police said physical evidence further suggested that Quinn intentionally hit the bicyclist. Skid marks on the street showed that he was driving against traffic toward the river on Tupelo Street. An inspection of the victim’s Thruster Chaos BMX bike showed a bent frame and rims, but “the officer could not locate any damage on the bicycle that would indicate the bicycle was dragged.”
Police also said they had no luck finding “Slick” and that there were no signs of forced entry on the Jeep. They left unanswered the question of whether the victim of the crash, who is on probation for theft and second-degree battery convictions, really did try to break into the vehicle.
Quinn was booked on one count of aggravated second-degree battery and one count of criminal damage to property for Lewis’ busted fence.
Lewis said Quinn is a good man who has recently suffered from serious health problems. Quinn once marched with him during Mardi Gras as a “skeleton” in the North Side Skull and Bones Gang, he said.
Quinn serves as the caretaker for his aged mother, Lewis said, and he believed the half-hour lag between the collision and his confession was spent preparing her for the news of what he had done.
“I’m glad that he made the right decision and came back,” Lewis said. “I really hope the best for both parties.”