A murdered man’s car crashed into a city bus on Jackson Avenue and a school bus was hit by gunfire as it carried children home through the Irish Channel in separate incidents Thursday afternoon that both illustrated the proximity of many New Orleanians to deadly violence.
The two shootings were believed to be unrelated, but both left witnesses horrified by the violence intruding on their daily routines.
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In the Jackson Avenue case, a 28-year-old man driving near Carondelet Street around 3:45 p.m. Thursday was spotted by an unknown gunman who opened fire in the street, then fled in a red car, police officials said. The victim was hit by several shots, and his silver Chevrolet careened into an oncoming RTA bus, police said. The gunshot victim was pronounced dead at the scene, but no one on the bus was hurt and the passengers were helpful in the investigation, police said.
One woman had just gotten off the St. Charles Avenue streetcar and was walking to pick up her grandson from school on O.C. Haley when the gunshots began in the street just behind her.
“I didn’t know whether to run, duck or hide,” said the woman, who said she feared that giving her name might make her the next target for retaliation. “I had no choice but to run. I ain’t taking no bullet if I don’t have to.”
She walks the same way to pick up her grandson every day, she said. Now, she’ll have to change her route.
“My heart is still in my throat,” she said. “It’s still messing with my head. I’m still freaked out.”
The woman leaned lightly on an ornate iron railing and her grandson sat on the sidewalk with his schoolwork while the investigators looked for evidence around the dead man’s car. It was the same model as her adopted son’s, the woman noted calmly, hoping to catch a glimpse of what the victim was wearing to reassure her that it wasn’t him.
“Suppose there would have been kids out here?” she mused. “They just don’t care. It’s just senseless killing.”
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Around the same time as the Jackson Avenue shooting, a school bus from L.B. Landry High School was passing Second and Chippewa in the Irish Channel when it passed two young men on the sidewalk who opened fire on the bus, breaking a window and scratching a teenage girl inside with the shattered glass, authorities said. The bus driver continued on to the apparent safety of Napoleon Avenue near St. Charles, where he sought help from police and another school bus arrived to take the students to their homes.
While the bus idled on Napoleon, one mother arrived to pick up her two teenage girls from the scene. The girls normally arrive home to their Central City home around 4:20 p.m., she said, and she began to worry when they didn’t show up. Finally, another Landry student from the neighborhood came by and told her that the bus had been shot, and she gathered her two younger children to go retrieve her shaken daughters.
“It is ridiculous,” the woman said, saying she didn’t want her or her daughters to be identified in any news reports. “It is sad, for them to shoot up a bus with kids on it. Why would anybody want to shoot at a school bus, where other kids could get hit by mistake?”
The shooting of a school bus may be a new low for New Orleans, according to Recovery School District Patrick Dobard, who arrived at the scene and spoke to the students on the bus. “Not to my knowledge,” Dobard said, when asked if it had happened before. Students said the gunmen appeared to be aiming at the bus, but Commander Bob Bardy of the NOPD Sixth District said his detectives are still trying to determine whether they were firing at a target inside the bus, the bus itself or perhaps someone on the street near it.
Either way, the Landry mother said she wasn’t sure if she could put her daughters back on the bus. She has no other way of getting them to the Westbank school — the car she picked them up in was a two-seat coupe, with not nearly enough room for all four children to ride safely. Her daughters were adamant that they were too afraid to get back on the bus, so she finally decided to let them stay home from school Friday while they made a longer-term decision.
“I’m worrying. I wonder if this is going to happen again,” she said as she got into the car overstuffed with children. “I’ve got a feeling that they did it today, so it might happen again tomorrow.”
Contact Robert Morris at rmorris@NolaMessenger.com, or post your comment below.