Essence Fest visitors robbed hours before leaving town

Published: Jul. 4, 2016 at 5:15 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2016 at 7:34 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A group of friends in town for Essence Fest say they were robbed at gunpoint just hours before they were to head back home. FOX 8 spoke exclusively with the victims, who said they'll never visit New Orleans again.

"I can't get back on the flight because I have no ID," Chicago resident Tasha Simon said Monday.

How to get back home. That's the dilemma a group of friends from the Mid-West faced Monday.

"He snatched two purses from me, cell phone, credit cards, money, everything," said Lyra Robinson.

The women told police the robbery happened in the 1600 block of N. Prieur Street in front of a home they rented on

"It's the worst experience ever," Robinson said.

The five women were returning from the Puff Daddy concert at the Superdome around 2 a.m. when they were ambushed.

"We got out of our rental car, we tried going to the door, the boy come running around the corner, he had on a black hoodie, black pants, he was like, 'give me your money, give me the key to that flashy car, give me the keys to that flashy car.'"

Despite seeing a gun, the victims didn't hand over the car key. Instead, they threw down their purses and took off in different directions.

"I ran and got under a car - that's how I scraped my knees - and we laid there until I saw my friend go back to the house," Janeen Wingr said.

The victims said the young gunman eventually took off, and they were able to call police with the one cell phone the robber didn't take. They then went to a nearby business to wait for police.

"We were terrified, we're still terrified," Simon said.

It certainly wasn't the vacation the lifelong friends had imagined. They said the crime ruined their trip and their perception of New Orleans.

"I came for the Essence Festival, but I will never come here again," Wingr said.

As police searched for a suspect, the women said they're not expecting to get any of their belongings back.

Some of the women said they're trying to rent another car to travel back home Monday, while others were hoping the police report could be used in place of their IDs to get on a flight.

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