NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A body found on a deserted I-10 service road, another riddled with bullets on Upperline Street. Those are two of four homicides that occurred in New Orleans in the past 24 hours during a rash of crime in which an officer was fired upon.
The most recent gunshot victim was found Thursday morning on a desolate stretch of the service road in New Orleans East.
"It was a male, and that person is unidentified at this time," said NOPD Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel.
Another homicide victim died after being dropped off at University Medical Center around 1 a.m. Shortly before midnight, there was another body found inside the Armstrong Park gate, discovered after an off-duty officer on a bike heard gunfire.
"It's a symptom of summer here. When summer comes, it escalates," said New Orleanian Ben Murry.
In the 2600 block of Upperline, the police log says very little other than a male found in the street unresponsive. Neighbors too frightened to go on camera said they heard as many as five shots before they discovered the body. This afternoon, the Upperline victim was identified as 40-year-old Gerard Howard.
"It is a spike - not a trend, but a spike," said Noel.
"I'm not sure it's a spike, it's maybe a mega trend," said LSU health criminologist Peter Scharf.
Scharf has tracked murder stats since the mid-1980s. He said murders go up during the summer on average of 6 percent, and there's little police can do about it.
"You've got an undermanned dept, and an incredible series of social issues spilling into the criminal justice system," said Scharf.
To make things worse, one officer came under fire on Florida Avenue last night as he tried to stop a two-door Acura.
"The person who fired at an officer was not located. We did recover a weapon at the scene, we have not uncovered any evidence to determine whether it was connected to any of the other incidents," said Noel.
At this point police have no suspects or links to any of the violence, but they say their investigative team is working around the clock
Though four people were killed, four other people were shot in the past 24 hours and are still alive. Year to date, New Orleans police say in spite of the recent murders, violent deaths are down about 20 percent compared with last year.