Councilman Oliver Thomas’ niece seriously injured in Plum Orchard double shooting

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 4:24 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 10:34 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The niece of a New Orleans councilman has become one of the city’s latest victims of gun violence.

One woman is dead and another was rushed to the hospital in critical condition after a shooting in the Plum Orchard neighborhood of New Orleans East, police said Tuesday (Sept. 20) afternoon.

The New Orleans Police Department said the shooting happened in the 7100 block of Chef Menteur Highway around 3:21 p.m. Both women were found shot inside a vehicle, a blue sedan parked outside the Tire Depot business. The NOPD said it is searching for four unknown male suspects.

One woman, identified by the parish coroner’s office as 19-year-old Paige Torregano, was pronounced dead at the scene and the second was transported to a hospital with critical injuries, the NOPD said.

Councilman Oliver Thomas said on his radio show Wednesday morning that the surviving victim is his niece.

“It’s so indisciminate now, and so pervasive,” Thomas says. “No one can say they are immune to it.”

He said the two women were shot over 50 times and his niece was struck once in the head and once in the face.

“It hits me in my heart and it hits me in my spirit and I wonder what kind of society... what kind of New Orleans we live in,” Thomas says.


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Thomas says the crime hot spots across New Orleans are clear, including along Chef Menteur Highway, where multiple murders and shootings have unfolded this year. He says he doesn’t understand why more hasn’t been done to stop the criminals who continue to terrorize the community.

“Why haven’t we put that criminal element on notice?” Thomas asked. “We’re going to out-man and out-gun you in this area until we take it.”

Tuesday’s shooting happened in broad daylight with several people watching the mayhem. Thomas says the shooters fear nothing.

“We have to reach a point in time where the criminal element and the killers, the carjackers, they need to be as uncomfortable as we are and we’re uncomfortable now. We are scared now. They need to be looking over their shoulders. They need to be wondering should they target that gas station, should they target that store. They need to wonder that if I see that lady by herself, maybe I shouldn’t rob her. They should feel like we feel.” Thomas says.

Thomas refuses to give up hope that his niece will pull through.

“I’m never going to give away my hope. I’m never going to give away my fight either,” he said. “They are never going to take that from me. Once they take that from us then we all lose.”

Anyone with information on the double shooting is asked to contact NOPD homicide detective Matthew Riffle at (504) 658-5300 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.

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