‘You got to protect yourself’: Constant gunfire in N.O. East has residents, business owners fed up

“They have people daily shooting out their windows. It used to be once a month, then it came to every two weeks, now it’s weekly.”
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 5:42 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Residents of New Orleans East say they’re terrorized by almost nightly, consistent gunfire.

Along Almonaster Avenue lies hundreds of shotgun shells and bullet casings, both from pistols and high caliber rifles. Along Chef Menteur Highway, people who spoke with FOX 8 said they’re living in fear.

“It’s like a third world country,” said one business owner who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. “[NOPD] repeatedly keep[s] saying they’re short-handed, they can’t leave an officer out there. They don’t have enough manpower for pretty much anything like that.”

The man, who owns and lives in a mobile home park, provided an audio recording from an outdoor camera. In just one minute, shot after shot can be heard in rapid succession.

“I have been told I was on my own out here. You got to protect yourself,” he said with a gun in his back pocket. “The last three or four months, we’ve had gunfire. I mean heavy, heavy artillery gunfire.”

On Almonaster, just south of his business, hundreds of shotgun shells and bullet casings. A port-a-potty laden with bullet holes lies on its side in the nearby canal.

Almonaster has been a haven for people drag racing their vehicles for years. But the gunfire is new and has nearby business owners fed up.

“They have people daily shooting out their windows,” said another business owner, who added that he’s had pallets stolen off his property. Large patches of scorched earth are on the median where he said they burn them.

“They’re not afraid,” he said. “They get out the car, they shoot, they take turns shooting, they get back in the car and drive off.”

His employees are fearful of driving to work, even in broad daylight, and it’s got business owners wanting to close shop and leave.

“It’s scary. It’s got me wanting to evacuate from my house,” said the owner of the mobile home park.

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The new faces of the New Orleans City Council have come out of the gate swinging when it comes to crime, vowing to tackle the litany of issues that plague the criminal justice system.

“We hear gunfire in this city every night,” Councilman Oliver Thomas, who represents the district, said. “People are just shooting guns in the air, or just shooting at inanimate objects. It’s illegal within the city boundaries.”

Thomas said his office has been in contact with NOPD and with the district captain. But the department is undermanned, among other issues, he said.

But is NOPD undermanned to the point that they don’t have control of the streets?

“Right now, that question hasn’t been answered,” Thomas said. “This city council is going to fight on behalf of the people to have that question answered. [We need] to make sure we have the strongest crime-fighting force not only in this region but in this country.”

When reached for a response, NOPD said:

As with any call, NOPD investigates every incident thoroughly and asks that anyone with information that could help identify the subjects involved to contact the NOPD Seventh District at 504-658-6070 or call anonymously to Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

The NOPD says it’s gotten 25 calls for service from that particular block of Chef Menteur Highway where the mobile home park is over the past month. They said their calls range from the illegal discharge of a weapon to aggravated battery by shooting.

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