Recent surge in shootings leave at least 8 dead

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It's a startling figure-- 10 shootings in six days.

While police are identifying persons of interests and apprehending suspects, criminologists say the statistics paint a grim picture of gun violence in New Orleans.

"Why are people shooting at each other? That is the ultimate question we need to address in this country," said Dillard University Criminal Justice Program Coordinator Ashraf Esmail.

In New Orleans, there's no clear-cut answer. At least eight people lost their lives this week, alone, due to shootings in the metro area. Three people were shot and killed in three shootings on Mardi Gras Day. A shooting Wednesday left another dead. On Thursday, a shooting where the victim's condition is unknown. Saturday two more shootings killed two more people. And Sunday someone else was shot and killed. That's a total of 10 shootings.

The NOPD says in the year to date, non-fatal shootings are down but murders are up.

"There's a decrease in the individual non-fatal shooting category where it's just a shooting and the person survives. And so, while there's a spike in murders, the category we report to the FBI-- non-fatal shootings-- there is a decrease in that. We're down 44-percent in that category," NOPD Chief Michael Harrison explained.

"We've seen 34 murders up to this point which is not a good direction if we project that over the course of a year. That's a lot of murders," said Esmail.

He adds that these short-term stats are important but, in the long-run, the numbers tell a different story.

"If you look over the last two years, it's on the uptick," said Esmail. "From the summer of 2016 to 2017, we've had over 703 non-fatal shootings."

Esmail says homicide rates dropped between 2016 and 2017, from 175 to 157.

"As people measure homicides and success rate, murder rates going down, some of that may just be lucky that people weren't killed. The best barometer to measure gun violence is how many shootings have we had," said Esmail.

Chief Michael Harrison says that the short-term surge in murders is largely between subjects who know one another and to gang activity, but Esmail says it's becoming increasingly difficult to determine shooters' motives.

"We're identifying more people carrying guns. That has been problematic," Esmail said. "For whatever reason, people walking around with guns, they're getting angry whether it's gang-related activity, whether it's poverty. Really, again, it's hard to pinpoint."

What is clear is that something must be done to curb violence in the Crescent City. Already, Chief Harrison has pledged resources towards addressing gang activity, insisting these offenders be brought to justice.

"The men and women of the NOPD are working relentlessly to bring these criminals to justice and we will pursue them relentlessly," said Chief Harrison.

There is one positive, NOPD arrested a suspect in the Mardi Gras shooting at St. Charles and Second. Investigators have also identified persons of interest in Saturday's shooting at St. Joseph and Magazine.

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