Fox 8 Defenders: Bullets fly into family’s home at The Willows

Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A young family says they narrowly avoided being hit by bullets, inside their home at The Willows apartment complex. They’ve been trying for over a year to effect positive change at the New Orleans East complex, owned by a religious non-profit, but they say this violence, is the last straw.

Around 10 Thursday night, the Dobard family says bullets pierced the walls of their home.

“At first when it happened I thought my daughter had been shot because we were in the bedroom and I heard some glass cracking and I thought it went through the window and I was like oh my God,” Cierra Dobard said.

Showing off the damage inside her home she says, “The bullets had came in and grazed the TV right here and it went through the wall right here and there’s a bullet hole.”

The damage is also visible outside. They say a window was smashed and bullet holes are visible in the siding of their unit.

Cierra and Mike Dobard were the subject of a number of Fox 8 Defenders reports, highlighting the living conditions at The Willows apartment complex. The apartments are owned by a religious non-profit from Tennessee. The Dobards have consistently begged management to beef up security to keep the tenants, safe.

Just last week, we reported on Kevin Smith, who says his car was shot up as he was leaving The Willows.

Smith recalls, “I could see them, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, bullets like zooming by.”

Smith says, with extensive damage to his vehicle, he’s lucky he survived.

When we went to The Willows Friday to look into the shooting Thursday night, the property manager, Candren Lemieux approached us. He wouldn’t go on camera, but provided us with some video. He says, it shows the shooters were positioned outside The Willows property, along the I-10 service road. But you can see they appeared to be firing into The Willows.

When we questioned Lemieux about security at the complex, he told us, starting Friday night, a private security guard would be stationed at the entrance of The Willows, keeping an eye on who comes and goes. He also said a private security company would be on site, seven days a week, from 7 p.m. to 7a.m.


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For the Dobards, the shooting only amplifies the fear they have living at the complex.

“As a father, I feel like a failure and we knew this was coming and we’re doing everything we can to get out of here,” Mike Dobard said.

They’re working to find a safer place to live before something like this, happens again.

“It’s a scary feeling,” Mike Dobard commented.

Cierra Dobard adds, “And you’re just thankful we’re alive.”

An attorney for the Dobards says the company that owns the complex assured its tenants there would be a security gate and NOPD detail present to control the rampant crime but these were more promises that have been broken.

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