In Marigny, a clash of opinions follows teen's shooting

Published: Jul. 30, 2013 at 2:18 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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Shooting suspect Merritt Landry
Shooting suspect Merritt Landry
Neighbors and activists talk on Mandeville St. in Marigny
Neighbors and activists talk on Mandeville St. in Marigny

New Orleans, La. - Residents gathered Monday evening outside the Marigny home where one of their neighbors shot a teen he believed was trespassing on his property.

The group Brothers Against Crime gathered on Mandeville Street with one goal: to relieve the rising tension in the neighborhood.

"We need to have some peace, peace until this thing is over, until it plays itself out," said Brother Al Mims.

Last Friday at around 2 a.m., 33-year-old Merritt Landry, a city employee, shot a 14-year-old boy identified by our partners at Times-Picayune as Marshall Coulter, after Coulter jumped Landry's fence. According to neighbors, Landry told the teen not to move but Landry believed Coulter did, and so he fired, striking Coulter in the head.

Some say the shooting is reminiscent of the Trayvon Martin incident, which is why Brothers Against Crime wanted to come to the neighborhood to ask people to stay calm.

Residents on the street seem divided, though, over the actions that Landry took Friday morning.

Edward Pluta said, "None of us know what it's like to be in Merritt Landry's shoes. None of us know what it's like to walk out our door at two in the morning and find somebody in our yard."

Pluta says homeowners have been having problems with break-ins in recent weeks and simply calling the police isn't helping. "We don't have the police coverage and the people in the city are getting fed up with it, especially in this neighborhood. I don't sleep at night now... this isn't the way to live," said Pluta.

Others question the route that Landry took, shooting the teen after he allegedly jumped over a 6-foot fence into Landry's yard.

A Marigny resident named Darlene said, "Grab the kid by the scruff of his neck or maybe punch him if you have to do something. But, like, shoot him in the head? That's pretty severe."

Landry was arrested and booked with attempted second-degree murder. He's out on bond, and doesn't appear to be staying at his home where the shooting took place.

His supporters have started a Facebook page. Others just want the whole thing to play out in the justice system.

Landry's case goes to court Thursday for a status hearing. He's been placed on emergency suspension from work without pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The teenager, Marshall Coulter, remains in the hospital in critical condition.