NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A New Orleans cyclist is speaking out after he was hit in the head with a baseball bat, biking through the St. Roch area Saturday night (April 20).
His marked the third attack in the neighborhood in the past month and the fifth citywide. Not all the suspect descriptions line up, but some cyclists are still concerned they’re being targeted.
“If they had made contact like the way they had wanted to make contact, then I probably wouldn’t be talking to you,” the victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
The man describes his attack in baseball terms.
“If they had swung back, and my head was a baseball, it would’ve been a foul ball,” he explained.
The man now has staples in his head and considers himself lucky to be alive.
“I just didn’t expect the violence to be so random. And you don’t really expect that until it happens to you,” he said.
He said he was biking down St. Roch Avenue at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday night. As he approached Robertson Street, he spotted movement in the shadows.
“As soon as I passed Robertson, I would say five or six or seven teenage, young, teenage youth sprung out from behind cars, doused me with a liquid,” he said. “And then I felt a whack on my head.”
He managed to stay on his bike, pedaling faster when he looked back to see one of the attackers on his tail. It was only after the man got away that he realized he was seriously injured.
Since the incident, the man learned his was one of several cyclists attacked in his neighborhood. FOX 8 confirmed two others with police. According to initial reports, one attack happened March 26 on the 1000 block of Poland Avenue, the other, April 10th on the 1400 block of St. Roch Avenue.
St. Roch resident and avid cyclist Danny Laurino said the attacks are unnerving.
“It does concern me, definitely,” Laurino said. “I mean, I always try to be aware wherever I’m riding but I definitely think about it, especially if I’m going to be bringing tourists through that area."
Cycling is one of the reasons Laurino moved to New Orleans. Now, he rides for a living, leading bike tours through the Marigny.
“I like bringing my people to a cemetery, and St. Roch cemetery is one of the more fascinating ones in the city. And, also, I kind of wanted to illustrate the difference between one side of Saint Claude and the other,” Laurino explained.
Yet, since the attacks, Laurino is reconsidering his route.
"I would hate to do that but safety is one of my main jobs," he said.
The cyclist who was attacked Saturday night said he wishes he would’ve known about the incidents sooner, so he could have taken precautions, too. Now, he’s hoping for more police presence and urging others to wear a helmet and carry pepper spray until his attackers are off the street.
“My main concern is finding these kids, finding these people, and making sure it doesn’t happen to anybody anymore,” he said.
The man said he’s seen a group of teens in the area, throwing rocks and sucker punching people, and believes they’re the same ones responsible for his attack. A number of social media groups are trying to track such incidents but, so far, have been unsuccessful with suspect descriptions, especially since many of the offenses happen at night.
Two other cyclists were attacked Saturday afternoon, but neither incident happened in the St. Roch neighborhood.
An NOPD spokesman said police are they are actively investigating all five incidents and cannot confirm whether any are related.