NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Those who lost everything in a Mid-City fire went back to the site Tuesday to see if they could salvage anything.
Massive flames lit up the sky early Monday morning in Bayou St. John. Hoffacker, who doubles as an artist at one of the studios, could not believe the pictures he saw of the fire.
"I kind of thought, that was it. But you know how when someone dies, you don't believe it right away? You're like no, no, no, there's no way. It's kind of the same thing," Hoffacker said.
That is, until he stepped outside and saw the plume of smoke.
"Started driving over here and I called Ken, and pretty much lost it at that point, I think. Yup, I did," Hoffacker said.
His artwork illustrated the crime and violence he saw every day on the job.
"This was the one place on earth that I'd rather be than anywhere else," said Hoffacker, "It didn't matter what it was like in here. I was always here."
Some of his famous pieces hang in galleries and restaurants - including AK-47s draped with beads and a mugshot of a gang leader made of bullet casings.
"I had probably over a hundred pieces. I had recently moved everything I had over here just for storage, and a lot of my materials and tools to make more canvases, frames," Hoffacker said.
Hoffacker said he stored all of his artwork at the studio, including a recent project he was working on.
"The series I was working on, those pieces were taking about 15 to 20 hours apiece, I think. And they were awesome, man, they were awesome. It was going to be my best body of work. I was so proud of it," Hoffacker said.
He said they were portraits dedicated to all the colleagues in his SWAT Unit.
"These guys that I work with are just amazing, and I'm so happy. You could tell there was a lot of pride in the paintings," Hoffacker said.
Hoffacker went back to try and see what was left.
"It's still hard to process. Like, I'm trying to lean over the barricade there trying to see what work is left or what tools are left. It doesn't matter if there's nothing left, but it's almost surreal," Hoffacker said.
He said he felt defeated at first, but said he's encouraged by the overwhelming outreach from the community.
"The outpouring of support both monetarily and just people texting me, I'm in awe. I never ever, ever, in my wildest dreams thought people enjoyed my artwork that much," said Hoffacker, "I used to be a decent artist. And now I'm going to be a wicked artist."
You can contribute to his GoFundMe here.