Criminologist: Bourbon St. shooters don't care about police

Criminologist gives his take on mass shooting in Quarter
Published: Nov. 29, 2016 at 2:47 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2016 at 2:57 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The scene at the mass shooting on Bourbon Street isn't unfamiliar to police working the area, but Dr. Peter Scharf, a criminologist with the LSU School of Health, thinks it's something that will become more prevalent, especially with a populace that's arming itself at a higher rate.

"I see what happened as not some anomaly, some visitation from aliens from Baton Rouge, but as kind of an extension of an armed feuding culture in which we escalate into violence," Scharf said.

New Orleans Police understand that, though, and respond in their own way by adding dozens of officers to the street.

Chief Michael Harrison said there were at least 40 officers in the area during the shooting that killed Demontris Toliver, 25, and wounded nine others, but not one was able to stop the pair of shooters who clearly weren't concerned with the police presence.

"The amazing thing to me is that nobody could detect the perpetrator, no one could deter the perpetrator, nobody could catch the perpetrator and the perpetrator really probably didn't care," Scharf said.

"These thugs do not respect the police," said Earl Bernhardt, the co-owner of Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street. "They would just as soon as shoot the police as they would you or I, so getting the guns off the streets is what is going to solve the problem or help lessen the problem."

Bernhardt thinks the only way to keep mass shootings from happening is to remove guns completely from the Quarter.

Scharf agrees and thinks police should implement a gun-free zone. Without it, if violence continues, the French Quarter could suffer.

"You don't get into the Superdome with a gun, you don't get into a school with a gun, you don't get into the airplane with a gun, TSA stops you. You need some sort of funnel because you could lose the whole magnet of the quarter," Scharf said.

"During Mardi Gras they put blockades at all the streets to keep traffic out, well they could do the same thing with the gun checks," Bernhardt said.

Now Scharf hopes, as 2016's murder will likely eclipse last year's number, police will seriously reflect on what works and what doesn't or risk another year of increasing violence.

"I hope they hunker down, do a reassessment of a strategy of tactics, I think you need more and better police officers and without that 2017 looks ugly," Dr. Scharf said.

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