NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - City leaders want answers about what police are doing to stop armed robbers targeting popular Uptown establishments. On Friday, New Orleans police Chief Michael Harrison went before city council members to talk about brazen hold-ups at Patois, Atchafalya, and Monkey Hill bar.
According to a police report, on Sept. 24 just after 10 p.m. armed men wearing hoodies, ski masks and gloves stormed into Atchafalya and robbed staff and customers, including a UNO student, tourists and a member of the military.
The report says the suspects were mad at the restaurant manager who tried to lock the door when he saw them coming. The armed men forced their way in, chased after the manager, then started cursing and even punched him in the face. They also robbed the bartender of the $500 he had in his wallet to pay his rent. One victim also told police that one of the suspects was wearing black mechanic-type gloves, and he appeared to be experienced and comfortable with guns as he held his weapon in a ready to shoot position.
That robbery, and strikingly similar crimes at Patois and Monkey Hill, are part of a new trend in New Orleans. The police chief says criminals are now hitting random spots that attract both locals and visitors. City Councilwoman Susan Guidry said her biggest concern is that a customer with a concealed gun may one day try to take on one of these robbers.
"The fact that people who do have permits to carry guns are maybe thinking they're not going to let that happen to them or their family if they're in a restaurant," Guidry said.
"What we don't want, because we can never get into the mind of a robber at that moment, is to provoke someone to use deadly force when they only wanted to just steal from you, so we would ask citizens to think through that and be very cautious. That is not something we advise citizens to do," Harrison said.
The chief adds that investigators are relentlessly trying to find the suspects and put them away. In the meantime, he's put more officers on the street to patrol at night, while also teaming with the Feds to share additional resources and manpower.
Guidry also says because of the recent armed robberies, some of her constituents are no longer carrying cash on them when they go out or wearing their jewelery or nice bags.