NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It's been a violent holiday weekend in New Orleans.
Gunfire once again erupted on the interstate Sunday. This time, three people were hurt - including a 7-year-old child. That makes at least eight shootings on I-10 since the beginning of the year.
Saturday in New Orleans East, a mother of two children watched in horror as a carjacker sped off with her 2-year-old son still strapped in the back seat. Moments later, a stranger came up carrying her toddler who had been safely dropped off around the corner.
"I just fell on the ground crying. I was holding my baby," the mother said.
LSU Criminologist Peter Scharf points to other recent crimes in the city that he says are particularly concerning.
"The quality of some of these violent crimes I think are really disturbing. The triple murder in the venue on Tulane Avenue, you have the assault on the Unitarian participants in the Quarter. You know, we've become an open-air shooting gallery, I mean that's just the reality," said Scharf.
Scharf says murders are up by 41% in New Orleans from last year. He adds that per capita, we've had more killings than Chicago.
"There were almost 100 murders in 2017. If right now, nobody killed anybody for the rest of the year, we'd still be in the top 15 in the United State," said Scharf.
Some critical areas he says the city must tackle are improving crime clearance rates and addressing the NOPD's manpower shortage.
"Most cities in the United States have reduced their murder totals. Murder totals have gone down by 30% since the mid-90s all over the United States, and they're up in a few cities. Now what is it that these other cities are doing that we're not doing?" asked Scharf.
The NOPD is encouraging the public to come forward with any information that may help solve cases.
As for the I-10 shootings, police say they don't believe Sunday's incident is related to any others that have taken place on the interstate. The NOPD adds the shootings appear to be crimes of opportunity between individuals who are acquaintances. We're told law enforcement is patrolling the area regularly.