CRIMETRACKER: Carjacking victim recalls dodging a bullet; violent crime continues to plague NOLA
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Violent crime continues to plague New Orleans.
Carjackings are up more than 151% since 2019 across the city. Last year, there were 84 carjacking cases. This year, police investigated more than 211.
More than 400 people have been shot in New Orleans this year, a 25% increase since 2020.
“We are neck and neck with St. Louis and Baltimore,” says LSU Health Criminologist Peter Scharf.
The homicide rate is also up 10%. As of the end of October, New Orleans Police have investigated 176 murders.
“There’s no indication that anything is slowing this down at all,” Scharf says.
“We are seeing a surge in violent crime at a time when the number of officers has diminished and we’re not able to do some of the things that we previously did to reduce the violent crime rates in the city,” says Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
In February of last year, a woman recalled dodging a bullet when a man armed with a gun demanding her car.
“The gun was at the window pointed to my head,” says the victim. “I’m being held up, and he wants my car.”
She had no idea she was a victim in a crime spree that had been going on for more than 48 hours.
“It was Monday morning 8 o’clock, leaving for work when I walked out and noticed somebody on my sidewalk,” says the victim.
The victim says she got into her vehicle and saw a man, who she believes was Phillip Barbarin, at her window. A gun was pressed up against her glass.
“He’s yelling get out. I’m trying to unlock the door and undo the seatbelt at the same time, and he’s pulling on the door handle. I keep trying to unlock it,” says the victim.
She says it was a struggle to comply, but eventually, the door opened and she tried to get out of the car.
“For some reason, I grabbed my bag and purse, which were on the passenger seat, and he’s getting in. I’m trying to get out. He said, ‘leave it’, and I don’t know why but I said ‘no’ and the gun was directly behind my head, behind my right ear, and that’s when he fired the gun,” says the victim.
The bullet barely missed her.
“I was not expecting him to shoot the gun directly behind my right ear. My ear was ringing for like an hour. When I got out of the car, I was standing in the driveway feeling completely helpless, and I started yelling. I’m also thinking, he just shot at me once. He could easily shoot me right now,” says the victim.
Police say Barbarin took off in her car and minutes later, officers spotted him parked in the back of a home on Audubon Street. They say Barbarin then barricaded himself inside of a home. A five-hour standoff ensued and police eventually brought him out in handcuffs that afternoon.
“I must say, this individual is a very violent individual. When victims did not comply he either fired at them and in one case, he fired and struck an individual while shooting at that individual,” says NOPD Chief Shaun Ferguson.
Police say Barbarin and another man went on a violent and brazen crime spree over a three-day period, carjacking, robbing, and shooting at some of their victims, striking one of them.
“The numbers suggest that this is not going away, but it’s continuing to escalate,” says Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says he believes the criminals have moved from committing armed robberies to carjackings.
“If you’re going to commit an armed robbery, chances are they’re on foot which means that there’s a greater likelihood of apprehension. They only think they’re going to get whatever is on the person or the victim, but if you go to a carjacking, you get a car, the purse, or wallet. You get any electronics or the weapons that are in that car,” says Goyeneche.
“It’s frustrating and it’s sad,” says the victim.
In Barbarin’s case, this victim says she wants justice.
“I know how the courts run, and they are very slow. I was expecting that,” says the victim.
As months went by after the carjacking, she says she began to contact the Orleans Parish D.A.’s Office. She says they assured her, the case was solid. She also reached out to the Metropolitan Crime Commission for support.
“She asked me to attend a court proceeding on October 13, and I attended with her. It was a zoom conference. The public defender and the D.A.’s office presented a joint motion to the judge for a continuance indicating that they were in plea negotiations,” says Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says after court, he and the victim approached the Assistant District Attorney Christian Hebert-Pryor.
“The prosecutor said, well we are discussing a plea deal that would be 15 years,” says Goyeneche.
FOX 8 obtained the transcript from the court hearing, in which Hebert-Pryor tells the judge he spoke with Barbarin’s attorney “extensively in terms of a possible plea resolution.”
“There has been no plea offer by the District Attorney’s Office to the defendant who is facing very lengthy sentences for multiple crimes,” the D.A.’s office said in a statement.
The statement goes on to say, “Our office has had continued contact with the victim and that will continue until we deliver justice in this case.”
“So the penalty for attempted murder is 50 years. The penalty for armed robbery is 5-99 years, and there are a number of other things you can do an enhancement on if you commit a violent crime armed with a firearm. That could be a five-year addition,” says Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says with violent crime surging across New Orleans, it’s cases like this one, that should be prosecuted to the fullest. The victim agrees.
“From my experience of what happened, I don’t think 15 [years] is enough considering I was victim number seven,” says the victim.
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