Violent crime stokes flames of lawmaker's 'animal' comment

Violent crime stokes flames of lawmaker's 'animal' comment

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A pair of violent crimes is stoking the flames of a comment made by Metairie lawmaker Conrad Appel earlier this week.

A 68-year-old woman pumping gas on Magazine Street just before midnight Thursday was carjacked at gunpoint, according to police. Video surveillance captured the person taking off with the woman's car as she ran for help at the gas station near the corner of Magazine and Jackson.

Only minutes later, across town, two armed men robbed a man sitting in his car near the corner of Zimple and Dante. The pair took the man's cash and keys and made off with his car, according to a police report.

"You just never know. That's what's uneasy about it, you never know who you're gonna encounter, there's a lot of people out there, but it is a little uneasy about it," said Ana Gomez, who lives near Zimple.

The violent crimes only further illustrate frustrations voiced by Senator Appel earlier this week during a Senate Finance Committee hearing discussing funding for prisons.

Appel was trying to paint a picture of violent crime and its frequency in the New Orleans area.

"In my district, there's not a day that doesn't go by that there's not murder, mayhem, muggings, carjackings, robberies, thefts, on and on and on," Appel said.

Appel continued to rail against criminals committing violent crimes.

"These people are, I hate to use the words, they're animals," Appel said. "They have no moral or ethical compass like the rest of us in this room. So if you have that type of plague on society, I don't know what you do, but take them out of society."

The strong comment drew some ire from a few people, even while they agreed with Appel's overall sentiment.

"They're not an animal, they are a human. It tells me he's not trying to recognize them as a human, but he's right. Putting money into a prison is not the answer. You need to nip it in the bud. You don't catch a weed when it's a tree, you catch a weed when it's small," said Will Selmon, a former New Orleans resident.

"That's not fair! You don't call another person an animal, how would you feel if someone called you an animal because of one mistake you made? No mistake is better than another," said Dwayne Sparks, who works near Zimple. "If the court decides he gets another chance, let that man have another chance. I'm not gonna say pour your money into rehabilitation programs or make new ones. No, better the ones you already got. Build more schools, man. Y'all building more schools out in the East, build more schools so people don't have to do what they're doing now."

Police are still looking for suspects in both cases. If you have information that can help contact Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.

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