When a gunman pistol-whipped and robbed a woman Wednesday at about 3 a.m. in the 900 block of Frenchmen Street, NOPD detectives began to focus their attention on a particular group of individuals. It's the same group they believe has struck six times in the past 10 days.
"They're targeting individuals who are by themselves. They've ventured off by themselves before and they've been violent," said Eight District Commander Jeffrey Walls.
Just hours before committing the armed robbery in the Marigny, police believe the young men robbed three other people at the corner of Governor Nicholls and Dauphine streets.
"It's just like open season down here because of the way we're set up. It's because of the attraction we have here," said Kathy Wightkin, a Quarter resident who walks her dogs past the corner every day.
"I used to carry mace, pepper spray, and then a few years ago, I didn't feel like I needed it anymore. I feel like I should stock up again, you know?" she said.
"They've committed multiple armed robberies in the French Quarter, as well as the Marigny," said Walls, who hopes surveillance video will help catch the men.
Walls pointed out that the robberies are happening more frequently, with two in the past 24 hours. He also said they're becoming more violent.
"At this point, we can get them, charge them and have them arrested before it becomes something it doesn't need to be," Walls said.
In a recent CrimeTracker Investigation, FOX 8 looked at incident reports and locations of armed robberies that occurred from January through October of this year. With 729 incidents this year compared to 528 last year, armed robberies are up 38 percent.
"Most of them are robberies and crimes of opportunity," said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. "It all deals with visibility, and we are not able to put out as much a we'd like at certain times."
Harrison said even with a manpower shortage, his officers are working non-stop to prevent and solve armed robberies across the city.
With the highest concentration of incidents happening in the French Quarter and Marigny, Walls wants the group of young suspects off the street. He said the three seem to always travel on foot and strike between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., mainly in the French Quarter.