Residents in the New Orleans community are paralyzed with fear as they face an ongoing spate of gunplay, which some say is being carried out by teenagers and men in their early 20’s.
Some say the most recent incident – a shooting on Tuesday night which injured two men in a track near 7th Avenue, New Orleans – was just another episode in what is beginning to feel like a never-ending season of violence.
According to reports from residents, over the past three weeks, they were forced to contend with “young boys” terrorizing the community in masks and hooded shirts. They say it’s the result of tension between residents of New Orleans and neighboring Chapman Lane, which has been going on for as long as they can remember.
Although the violence is subdued from time to time, they added, it is usually after numerous men have been badly wounded or someone killed. Over the past few weeks, tension has risen, resulting in multiple shooting incidents.
“This is three Tuesday nights that they were shooting. Last night, my nephew got shot in his legs and another fellow was shot in both legs,” said one woman.
Referring to the shooters as “little boys”, she told Barbados TODAY she believed they are acting on the instruction of men much older than themselves.
“It is little boys and big men are putting guns in their hands. I don’t know if they are doing it for money,” said the frustrated woman.
“You can’t lie down. I was in my bed last night and I heard the shots and I thought it was galvanize shaking. When I came out, the ambulance was there with my nephew on the ground,” she added.
Twenty-one-year-old Leejay Walker, of 8th Avenue who was shot in both feet and 52-year-old Henderson Hewitt of 7th Avenue who was shot in his thigh, became the latest casualties when masked men attacked them on Tuesday night.
This morning, both men and another young man were seen limping in the area and they all confirmed that they had fallen victim to gunmen roaming the area at night.
“I saw three fellows come up that gap walking. Two short ones and a tall one, and from the time I saw them, I knew that one of them had a gun in his crotch and I told the fellows to watch them carefully,” said the woman who revealed that she knew some of “these little fellows from the time they were small”.
Hours before the most recent attack, 44-year-old Daryll Harris, of Barbarees Gardens, formerly of nearby Chapman Lane, became the country’s third murder victim for the year when he was sprayed with bullets outside his home.
“I don’t know what’s happening between the men from New Orleans and Chapman Lane, but it’s always a bad vibe,” said another man who did not want to be identified. He said very trivial matters could spark violence.
“The men have guns and they can’t take any talk. So there’s only one result when you’re living in the ghetto. If you see someone’s girl and you are talking to a man’s girl, all of those things create a lot of bad vibes and a lot of strife,” he said. Sometimes, he said, innocent people were caught in the crossfire.
“When I went down and I saw the fellow [52-year-old shooting victim, Henderson Hewitt], I said ‘he is who they shot?’ He was just going home on his bicycle,” the man said in despair.
“Don’t say my name, because they would shoot you for nothing,” warned another woman who did not want to be identified.
“They’re coming out here at night and wearing hoodies and masks and just doing it [shooting].”
Some angry residents accused the police of neglecting their responsibility to serve and protect, and even showing disrespect toward members of inner city communities.
“My niece was out here and I don’t know what she said, but one of them [police] cursed at her,” she said, while adding “We can’t help the police, if the police aren’t helping us.”
“Children are out here, I have nephews who have children out here. I’m living in fear,” she said. But when asked about a possible solution, the frustrated woman revealed “I don’t know if anything can be done about the situation, because it is just getting worse.”