NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A mother and her two young sons were murdered inside their Gentilly home Friday morning. The daughter was critically injured. Grief counselors are on hand to help the children's classmates and teachers deal with this tragedy, and in a heartbreaking twist, two of the victims were supposed to receive awards at school Friday.
Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Jessica Hof said there's no way to make sense of a senseless crime like this.
"Killing a child is obviously a senseless crime and it will affect not only the surviving sibling but everybody in the family, and everybody in the community, and really everybody that watches the news. To think that that kind of trauma can happen in our city is very disheartening," Hof said.
Monique Smith and her two sons, 6-year-old Jumyrin and 10-year-old Justin were shot to death. Smith's 12-year-old daughter survived and is in the hospital in serious condition. Because of the horrific nature of the murders, Crimestoppers immediately doubled its reward in an effort to get the person responsible off the streets.
"It shouldn't be about the money, it should be about the fact that no one should ever tolerate this happening in our neighborhoods, and we all just want to show our love and support to this family. And bringing justice is one way you can do that," said Crimestoppers President and CEO Darlene Cusanza.
The children all attended Samuel J. Green Charter School. The director knew something was wrong when they were absent, especially considering Justin and his sister were receiving awards for perfect attendance. After learning what happened, the school deployed a crisis team, bringing in grief counselors to help students and staff.
Hof said fellow classmates, those grieving in the community and, most importantly, the surviving daughter will need a lot of support to get through something this traumatic.
"We're talking about 6-years-olds," she said. "Kids at that age really have a hard time even understanding death, much less 'The kid I just sat next to at lunch isn't with me today.' And so those kids are going to have a hard time understanding it, they're going to need support, up to the 10 and 12 year olds. It's very important, especially with those kids, that we help them to feel safe in their community, that this isn't going to happen to them and their families."
Green Charter said the surviving daughter was going to receive another award Friday. She was selected by her teachers as the student that best exemplified the school's values.
If you have any information that can help detectives solve this case, call Crimestoppers at 504.822.1111. You could be eligible for that $5,000 reward. You don't have to leave your name or testify.