The robberies involved in the Uptown spree were from Thursday, June 1, until Sunday, June 4, in the 4200 block of Walmsley, at South Johnson and Upperline, in the 1700 block of Dante, in the 1500 block of Broadway and the 4300 block of State Street Drive, officers said. Three vehicles stolen in the attacks have been recovered, as well as three firearms and a BB gun connected to the robberies, said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison.
Two of the arrested suspects include 17-year-old Rannell Fields on five counts of armed robbery, and his 23-year-old brother, Roland Fields, on one count of possession of stolen property. The two other arrested suspects were juveniles, so their names are not being released, but they are being charged with four and five counts of robbery, Harrison said.
“With these arrests, our officers put a stop to this string of carjackings within days of this violent crime spree beginning. We took swift, decisive and aggressive action to take these perpetrators off the streets of New Orleans,” Harrison said. “…We told you we would catch you, and now we have delivered on our promise.”
Two additional “persons of interest” are also being sought in connection with the investigation, Harrison said, and police released photos of them later Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the First District made four arrests for a string of three armed robberies last week, with a fifth person arrested in an unconnected fourth armed robbery, Harrison said. All five suspects in the First District cases were juveniles, part of a citywide uptick in violent crimes with juvenile suspects, Harrison acknowledged. The problem is not just that they’re out of school; it’s that they are becoming increasingly brazen in their attacks, he said.
“This is grown-man behavior, so we’re going to come after them for the violent criminals they are,” Harrison said. “They are extremely brazen. They are emboldened, and they are committing very violent crimes that shock the conscience of our citizens.”
Since the Thursday, an additional seven armed robberies and carjackings were reported in the NOPD Sixth District streets of Constantinople, Amelia, Coliseum, St. Thomas, Philip, St. Andrew and St. Charles Avenue. Those cases were not mentioned in Wednesday morning’s news conference, but Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel said the investigation is continuing and may grow to include cases in more districts.
Despite the high number of armed robberies, they are not being committed by a large number of people, Harrison said. Typically, it is a small number of people who are committing multiple robberies, he said.
The Second District violent-crime detectives were assisted by the NOPD’s centralized TIGER unit, which was formed of both tactical and investigative officers in the summer of 2016 to help focus on robbery sprees around the city. Harrison declined to say how many officers are in the TIGER unit this year, but noted that its mission was expanded to include shootings as well.
Anyone with information in the robberies is urged to call the NOPD Second District station at 658-6020 to speak to a detective, or CrimeStoppers at 822-1111 to leave an anonymous tip that could be eligible for a cash reward.