NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Lower Ninth Ward reality for Amanda Hardison is tough.
"Almost every bar in this city, everyone that works behind the bar has a gun underneath the bar because that's just our reality right now," she said. "As a woman, it scares the hell out of me."
She drives part-time for a ride-sharing company in New Orleans and said nearly getting carjacked by a group of young men is nothing new. Hardison said it has happened to her four times in the past month.
"When you pull up to a stop sign or a stop light, late at night or even I had it happen during the day once, They generally put a couple kids in front of you, one of them will pull a gun and usually I'll just take off," Hardison said. "I never put my car in park when I'm picking up a customer. I never unlock my door. I crack my window so I can hear things coming in around me, and I just take off like a bat out of hell if I don't feel safe."
The unsafe feeling is spreading throughout New Orleans as police search for two young men officers said may be responsible for more than 20 armed robberies all across the metro area.
In the past few days, local authorities arrested two 15-year-olds for their involvement in carjackings and robberies, and New Orleans police are still looking for 14-year-old Tyrone Walton who officers said shot another 14-year-old after the two got into an argument in New Orleans East.
Hardison said even tourists in her car have had close calls.
"Driving, I've seen two shootings where I've had passengers in the car where I'm like, 'get down!' and did evasive maneuvers to get out of the area," she said. "These are people that are coming to spend money in our city and this makes us look bad. It makes us look ridiculous."