NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The tragedy in Dallas may cause some people to relive a painful memory for the 1970s in New Orleans, when sharpshooter Mark Essex held the city hostage in January of 1973, targeting police and civilians with his gun atop the Howard Johnson Hotel.
Kansas born Essex was discharged from the Navy for character and behavioral disorders in 1971, and joined a group of black radicals in San Francisco. He later moved to New Orleans, plastered racist graffiti on the walls of his uptown apartment and set out on an anti white anti-police killing spree in the city. It started on New Year's eve 1972 when he shot and killed New Orleans Police cadets Alfred Harrell and Edward Hosli Senior. Then on January 7th around 10 in the morning his sriper attacks from the Howard Johnson hotel began. The standoff lasted for 11 hours, perched on the roof he picked off victims.
Police took cover the best they could and fired back at the madman on the roof. Former WVUE reporter Furnell Chatman remembers.
"The Howard Johnson shootout with Mark Essex, I was there for that..It was a lot of gunfire that night," he said.
Chatman credits Alec Gifford with stretching the limits of television in those days.
"He's the guy who had the foresight to roll a live camera out the door and put a steel plate on it so he could show people what was happening at the Howard Johnson shootout when mark Essex was firing in all directions."
Some police officers took positions on the 31 story Bank of New Orleans building. Some watched from the Rault center as a helicopter hovered above. The death toll included police deputy superintendent Louis J Sirgo.
Essex killed seven people from the Howard Johnson including three officers and wounded eight. The shooting rampage came to an end when an NOPD sharpshooter in a Marine helicopter killed Essex.