Drug shootings aim to inflict maximum damage, criminologist says

One day after gunfire erupted in the Lower Ninth Ward, killing two people and injuring five others, many questions remain.

However, police say one detail seems clear.

"We're less than 24 hours into this investigation and we already have significant reason to believe, subject to any future information we don't know, that this case involves drugs and guns," said NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas.

It's a statement Serpas delivers often after killings in the city. While investigators believe one of the deceased was the intended target, the hail of bullets also struck several bystanders, including two young children who remain in critical condition.

Police are working to identify multiple gunmen.

"[Violent criminals involved with drugs] either don't care, or they do care, in the sense that they want to inflict the maximum damage on a family," said criminologist Peter Scharf.

This type of mentality is nothing new, Scharf said, but it's one that creates huge challenges in the effort to turn things around. Violent criminals in the drug trade strike fear in communities across the city.

"It's easy to get intimidated by the dope folks, and especially when they're organized," Scharf said. "It's a signature that the dope boys put on these assassinations that adopt some of the techniques that are used in other parts of the world."

Anti-Crime activist and former parole board member Al Mims said neighbors can help reverse the trend.

"I'm not surprised [by the Lower Ninth Ward shooting]. I'm not a prophet, but it's going to get worse until people start taking it personally," he said. "We need more police, but we need more community involvement."

The Lower Ninth Ward case mirrors so many others before it, Mims said. He believes community members likely know who is behind it, and said it's critical for someone to come forward.

"Those perpetrators should've been in jail by midnight [Sunday]," Mims said. "We can do better, and most people, they'll talk about it and be philosophical, but what about action? Action speaks louder than words. Well done is better than well said. Talk is cheap."

Crimestoppers is offering a $5,000 reward in the case. If you have any information, call (504) 822.1111.

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