A terrifying shooting Tuesday afternoon in New Orleans sent bystanders scampering for safety, prompting residents to plead with authorities to replace police with soldiers in the inner-city community.
Despite claims on social media, no one was injured in the attack, but residents say it was yet another episode in a series of similar scenes which have been playing out in the community as recently as last week.
For them, it is only a matter of time before reckless gunmen claim the life of their intended targets or one of the many bystanders who call New Orleans home.
At around 12:30, the area around Fourth Avenue New Orleans was gripped by panic. Shoes, hats and other articles of clothing left strewn on the street told the story of a desperate attempt to escape gunfire, said to come from shooters in a passing vehicle.
“I have to go and live on the moon. Is there space on the moon?” one resident was heard asking another. She told Barbados TODAY approximately five loud gunshots left her huddled under her bed.
“This nonsense has to stop because you cannot be comfortable in your house with all of this foolishness going on all the time like this,” she said.
A heavy police presence swarmed the scene of the gunplay and the sound of sirens approaching indicated more were on the way. Scores of neighbours poured out of their houses and into the streets to observe as heavily armed officers combed the area.
But according to residents, a similar scene had played out just the week before.
A neighbour recalled: “I was in the kitchen frying some fish feeling good having the family home and enjoying myself and I heard about twelve bullets and I had to drop on the ground.
“I am frightened and scared because it feels like the shootings are starting back again.”
A year ago, they recalled a walkthrough of the area by Attorney General Dale Marshall, the police high command and the Barbados Defence Force’s top brass in response to a sudden upsurge in gun violence. At the time, Marshall admitted the depth of the problem was great.
But he assured residents the problem would be dealt with.
Now, with little children, elderly and disabled people exposed in the streets of New Orleans, residents are demanding that his promise be kept.
While admitting that police officers could not be present in the community 24 hours every day, she cried: “There is nothing that we could do as innocent bystanders but something needs to be done.
“Let the soldiers come and deal with it, because these police are too soft for them [criminals].
“I somehow think the police are too easy on them because they aren’t frightened for the police, but when they see the soldiers they are humbled.
“But we aren’t really seeing them now. The police are here by themselves, but we need the soldiers to come back.
“There are children passing through here from Westbury Primary School, St. Mary’s, Wesley Hall and other primary schools.
“There are differently disabled people who cannot escape if something happens I don’t know what Government intends to do, how they intend to do it and when they will do it but these young people need something.”