A wave of shootings in the Irish Channel that may be connected to an attack on a school bus last month and another outbreak of gun violence in the Central City area led to a joint operation of more than 40 officers being deployed to find the shooters and suppress the gunfire, authorities said this week.
The Irish Channel area saw at least three shootings in as many days last week, including one at hotspot at Chippewa and Washington, another shooting in the 600 block of Soraparu and one more just a few blocks down at Hastings Place and St. Mary. At Chippewa and Washington, at least a dozen rounds were fired May 2 between what appeared to be juveniles in a silver Range Rover and a dark-colored sedan, and on Soraparu, the victim was walking toward a red car on the street when he was fired upon, said Sgt. Sabrina Richardson of the NOPD Sixth District persons-crimes unit.
It’s unclear whether any of the shootings are related to one another, said Commander Bob Bardy Thursday at the weekly meeting of the Sixth District leadership. The shooting at Chippewa and Washington is believed to involve the same suspects who fired on a school bus passing through the Channel last month, but the victims in that case refuse to identify their attackers, so that connection cannot be confirmed either, said Lt. Frank Young of the district investigations unit.
Central City has also seen a wave of shootings over the last two weeks. Norris Gray was shot to death May 1 in front of more than a dozen children at a party on Second Street; another shooting was reported the same night on St. Andrew Street; and another man was critically wounded May 3 in a shooting on South Saratoga. The Gray murder has some definite suspects and the investigation is progressing, Bardy said, and the St. Andrew Street case appears to have stemmed from a fight between several young girls. In the Saratoga Street case, investigators believe they have identified the suspect, but have been unable to get confirmation from witnesses, possibly because of an outdated lineup photograph, Bardy said.
The Sixth District’s task force has been concentrating on both the Irish Channel and the Central City areas, and Bardy recognized two task force officers, Lucretia Gantner and Devin Ashmore, for making two vehicle stops that each led to the discovery of signficant stashes of heroin and cocaine by known players in the Uptown violence. And on Thursday, Bardy supplemented the district’s task force and narcotics officers with state Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and members of the city’s Special Operations Division, creating a team of 40 agents deployed into the Irish Channel and Central City, looking for more of the individuals behind the shootings.
In Central City, the current hotspot seems to be along St. Andrew Street, and in the Irish Channel, the focal point of violence continues to be around Chippewa and Washington, Bardy said.
“We’re a little more precise,” Bardy said. “We’re targeting areas where the gun violence tends to be.”
Police are also continuing to investigate an incident at Walter L. Cohen High School on Dryades Street in the Milan neighborhood, in which a teenager drove up to some students outside, showed them a gun and told them that if they weren’t at the school, he’d shoot all of them, Richardson said. That suspect has been identified as someone also suspected in a string of robberies in Jefferson Parish, Bardy said.
Finally, one other shooting reported in the Sixth District, said by the victim at the hospital to have taken place at Claiborne and Earhart, has since been determined not to have happened there, Richardson said, and appears to have taken place somewhere on the Westbank.