NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A construction worker and another man said they watched a man on a bicycle try to break into a garage Wednesday just before 9 a.m. in the 4300 block of Lasalle Street.
"We pulled up on him and he was up to no good," the construction worker said.
A short time later, they heard a loud bang.
"I was kidding with the guys and I said, 'somebody must've just gotten shot.' Sure enough, it was the same guy we'd seen trying to break entry," the construction worker said.
The homeowner arrived to his house to find his front gate open and 59-year-old David Mathis standing near his shed. Police said the two got into a physical altercation, and that's when the homeowner pulled out a gun and shot Mathis in the leg.
"I heard a gunshot, so I came out and just walked around the corner. I could see my neighbor was on his phone," David Dolese said.
Police said Mathis left the scene and ended up several blocks away at Louisiana Avenue and Freret Street, where he was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The story traveled quickly through the neighborhood.
"It's extremely upsetting," Dolese said.
"I feel the guy was defending himself. It was going to be either him or the intruder," another neighbor said.
Steven Weimer said police, on the scene of the shooting knocked at his door and told him the laundry room in the back of his Lasalle Street home had been broken into.
"I mean, he could have looked in the window and seen what was in that laundry room. Why did he have to break in there? This is crazy," Weimer said.
Neighbors said they've experienced a rash of car break-ins lately, and they've noticed what they believe to be people casing their neighborhood.
"It's like you got to watch your back now," one man said.
"It's very upsetting to think that you have to have a weapon in your home, but it's coming to that because of police response times. You feel that if somebody is in your house, threatening you in some way, maybe you need a gun to stop them before the police get there," Dolese said.
Police arrested Mathis and booked him with two counts of burglary.