The shooting that left two brothers of reality TV star Toya Wright dead over the weekend was preceded by a heated disturbance on a 7th Ward street, according to one neighbor.
John Kemper, 55, said the voices he heard across the street from his residence in the 2800 block of Pauger Street just after midnight Sunday morning were so loud that he peered through the window to see what was happening.
When he looked out, he said, he saw several residents of a group of brick apartment buildings on the upriver side of the street, yelling at the occupants of a black SUV.
“They were yelling down, looking at the car,” Kemper said. “There was a commotion going on.”
He said such disturbances are so common on the block that he went back into a rear room of his apartment. From inside the apartment, he then heard nine shots, he said.
“When I looked back out, everybody was gone,” Kemper said.
The engine of the black SUV was still running, however. When police officers arrived at the scene, they found brothers Ryan “Rudy” Johnson, 24, and Joshua Johnson, 31, dead from gunshot wounds inside the vehicle.
Wright, the ex-wife of famed New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne, took to Instagram later Sunday to mourn her brothers.
“Help me Lord,” Wright wrote. “I will never understand this.”
Police have given no indication about who they think may have killed the Johnson brothers or why. But Kemper and several other neighbors said they suspected a connection to drug dealing near the brick apartment buildings.
“It be like they’re selling sno-balls over there,” one said.
That resident, like most on the block, declined to be quoted by name, citing fear of the purported drug dealers.
Kemper said he was comfortable speaking in part because he was leaving New Orleans for Chicago. He was stuffing his belongings into a minivan as he spoke Monday afternoon.
The Police Department released no additional information about the double homicide Monday. But an NOPD database of calls for service shows that officers have been called to the block on repeated occasions this year.
Through late July, police have handled five 911 calls from the block about domestic disturbances, four calls about other disturbances, six suspicious person reports, one report of an aggravated battery by knife, another report of an aggravated battery by shooting, one report of an aggravated assault, a residence burglary, an auto theft and two drug violations.
Police asked anyone with information on the killings to contact Homicide Detective Theo Kent at (504) 658-5300.