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Advocate file photo of New Orleans Police Department chief Shaun Ferguson and Mayor LaToya Cantrell

A spike in juvenile crime and vehicle break-ins came to a head in New Orleans this week after police say a 17-year-old fatally shot a woman whose vehicle he was trying to burglarize.

Now, in response, New Orleans officials announced a summer curfew and implored parents to be responsible for their children.

“It is time to take ownership of your kids," New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said Thursday morning. "Be responsible for these kids. We as a department, we as a criminal justice system, we as a city government can not do this alone. We do need your help with this”

The comments came during a press conference about the Wednesday evening homicide in Mid-City. The NOPD chief also addressed frequent instances involving repeat offenders. 

“Every district across this city has made countless arrests. And we find that we are re-arresting some of the same individuals. So it is up to us to figure out what it is that we can do better," he said. "But I’m asking the community, I am begging the parents to do their part to assist us. Help us help you to make this … the safe city that it could and should be.”


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Emanuel Pipkins

Emanuel Pipkins

Emanuel Pipkins, 17, is accused of breaking in to the vehicle of a Mid-City couple around 9:50 p.m. on Cleveland Avenue. The couple was tipped off by a car alarm and tried to confront Pipkins, who they found inside their vehicle.

Amid an exchange of gunfire with the couple, Pipkins then fatally shot the woman, 63, and shot the man, 54, in the arm, New Orleans police say.

Pipkins had been arrested in a separate auto burglary incident in April, and had a previous aggravated assault charge, Ferguson said. 

“These individuals have become brazen and bold, and we should realize that," Ferguson said. "I’m not here today to point fingers at anyone, but I will say that we have to a better job on our end, but we also have to ask our community and the parents to do a better job on their end."

Ferguson asked New Orleans parents to keep tabs on their children. If they are exhibiting troubling behavior, 'take action.' He offered that the resources of youth services can help. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said they have multiple proactive initiatives in the pipeline to address juvenile crime, including a curfew in the summer. The details of that curfew were not immediately released.

“We know again that we cannot do it alone, but we’re doing everything that we should be doing. And we are committed to doing more," Cantrell said.

Cantrell is working on a program with Covenant House. She is also seeking approval from the city council on a court-ordered enrichment program that juvenile offenders can be ordered to participate in as an alternative to incarcerations at the youth study center.

There will also be a push to hire community workers who will reach out in the community.

“We’re committed at every single level,” Cantrell said, adding that she has a scheduled meeting with judges today.

For potential victims, officials told them to call 911 and not engage.

“They’re armed, and this is serious," Cantrell said. "They are brazen, and they have no fear. Call 911, do not engage. Because we believe, based on what we’ve seen, it will not end in a manner that we want in this city. It will not end positively.”

The recent rash of crime drew Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro in WWL-Radio Thursday morning to address what he has long referred to as the biggest crime" problem facing the city.

He cited NOPD staffing shortages and the consent decree that, in part, prohibits vehicle chases involving non-violent crimes. 

“This is another example of the violent criminal activity plaguing our community by the juveniles,” he said.