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Innocent bystander killed in St. Claude gunfire, neighbors say

1 killed, 1 injured in shooting in the 1200 block of Franklin Avenue
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:00 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 10:24 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Neighbors say a man killed in a shooting in the 1200 block of Franklin Avenue Monday night was an innocent bystander, caught in a barrage of gunfire meant for someone else.

The Orleans Parish coroner identified the victim as 29-year-old Ronnie Bonilla.

“It’s a person no matter what, but the thing that messes me up, he was innocent,” a neighbor who rushed to Bonilla’s aid said.

The neighbor saw it all happen from his window. He heard two shots and ran out into chaos.

“I ran downstairs to see what was going on and a guy was running,” the neighbor said. “I see a bunch of commotion across the street and ask if everyone’s ok and he just kept screaming.”

Multiple neighbors believe it was a targeted attack. The man they believe was the target ran away and the gunfire that was trained on him hit a white pickup truck full of construction workers getting ready to head home for the day instead.

A man was killed in a barrage of gunfire St. Claude neighbors say they believe was meant for...
A man was killed in a barrage of gunfire St. Claude neighbors say they believe was meant for someone else.(WVUE)

“There’s blood everywhere,” the neighbor described. “I ran back to get a towel because he was holding a hand on his head and the blood was coming out. He wasn’t doing a good job, but he was trying.”

This neighbor held a towel on Bonilla’s head, putting pressure on the fatal wound until EMS arrived.

“We knew he was already gone by then, but we still tried because that’s a person,” he said.

Neighbors say the workers were in the truck Facetiming what must have been family or friends, getting ready to leave when the barrage of gunfire started. Bonilla turned around to look and was struck in the head.

“After it happened, I called my brother and I broke down,” the neighbor said. “It hit me. I tried. It wasn’t good enough. He was hit pretty bad.”

It’s something that’s weighing heavily on this neighbor’s mind and something that others are just fed up with.

Minutes later and about a dozen blocks away, at the corner of Pauline and Marais Streets, Lawrence Wells, 38, was shot and killed on a moped.

More: Man on moped shot and killed in the St. Claude neighborhood identified

Neighbors in both cases believe the murders are connected to drug activity.

“I’ve lived here like six months now and I think it’s the second or third shooting near the house,” the neighbor said. “I got to be on my toes.”

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