A pizza-delivery driver was beaten by a man with a baseball bat early Tuesday morning in the former B.W. Cooper housing projects, New Orleans Police said.
The driver was taking a delivery to the 1300 block of South Prieur Street shortly before 2 a.m., and saw a man waiting outside when he arrived, said NOPD Detective Sgt. David Barnes on Tuesday afternoon at the weekly meeting of Sixth District ranking officers. The driver asked the man if he was the person who placed the order, and when the man said yes, the driver turned back to the car to get the pizza, Barnes said.
At that point, the driver was attacked from behind with a baseball bat, Barnes said. He was struck several times in the head and body, and the suspects then left without taking anything or saying anything, Barnes said.
“It could be a pizza man version of ‘the knockout game,’ as best I can tell,” Barnes said.
Robberies of pizza drivers are not uncommon, noted Sgt. Daniel Scanlan, but no motive was clear for the beating.
“It’s unknown why they would order a pizza and just whack the guy with a baseball bat,” Scanlan said.
The driver had to have several staples in his head after the attack and is now recovering at his home, said Mark Murret, a safety director for the Domino’s franchise. The driver tried to give the assailants the pizza, Murret said, but they seemed to ignore it as they attacked him.
“He said, ‘Here, take the pizza,’” Murret said. “But they just kept beating him.”
Domino’s restricts the amount of cash that drivers carry to make them less of a target, Murret said. The store’s phones have caller ID, and drivers call back the numbers they receive orders from to confirm that the order is legitimate, Murret said. Finally, if they feel unsafe at any time, they are authorized to return to the store.
“Pizza delivery is a vulnerable occupation,” Murret said. “You’re vulneable, just like anyone else who deals with the public.”
Domino’s will stop delivery to the immediate area around the site of the attack for now, Murret said, but will re-evaluate if an arrest is made in the case.
“Due to the violent nature of the incident, we won’t be delivering to the area for the time being,” Murret said.
The driver has been with Domino’s for two years, and workman’s compensation will help him with his medical expenses and the work that he misses, Murret said. Domino’s also has an internal foundation to help employees when an emergency strikes and keeps them from their jobs, he said.