Child, 1, killed; teen babysitter wounded in Central City shooting

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Police officers and detectives fill South Saratoga Street as they investigate the fatal shooting of a 1-year-old girl Thursday night. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Police officers and detectives fill South Saratoga Street as they investigate the fatal shooting of a 1-year-old girl Thursday night. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas confers with Lt. Frank Young and Commander Bob Bardy at the murder scene. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas confers with Lt. Frank Young and Commander Bob Bardy at the murder scene. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

For the fourth time in as many years, a young child in Central City was gunned down Thursday evening for no reason other than the simple misfortune of being there when the shooting started.

“This is indescribable,” said Barbara Lacen-Keller, a longtime Central City activist. “There’s no way you could make a reason out of this. I know the Bible says to forgive, but, I don’t know… “

In Thursday’s case, an 18-year-old woman was babysitting a 13-month-old girl, and they were walking in the 2800 block of South Saratoga (near Washington Avenue) around 8:15 p.m. when gunshots rang out, police officials said. Both the babysitter and the child were hit, and the babysitter ran into a nearby home with the girl for help. Police and paramedics were on the scene in minutes, but the baby was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said. The babysitter required surgery, but was listed in stable condition late Thursday evening.

Investigators believe there may have been two shooters and that they were on foot, but little else is known so far, said NOPD Superintendant Ronal Serpas.

“We have no idea yet who the target was,” Serpas said.

The shooting took place not long after dusk, Serpas said, so people were around and likely saw something. He urged residents to call CrimeStoppers at 822-1111 with any information that could be useful.

“Our community rallies up every time something terrible and tragic like this happens,” Serpas said.

The child, whose name has not been released, joins a litany of others to die in Central City gun violence in recent years. Jeremy Galmon, age 2, was killed in September of 2010 in a shooting after a second-line parade had passed. Keira Holmes, four days shy of her second birthday, was killed in December 2011 in the courtyard of the B.W. Cooper housing development in a hail of bullets allegedly fired by a group of men chasing one of their enemies. In May of 2012, Briana Allen caught a lethal bullet after a gunfight broke out near a birthday party she was attending. True to Serpas’ words, arrests have been made in each of those killings.

* * *

On Thursday evening, neighbors all described the injured babysitter as a “nice” or “sweet” girl. One woman, a family friend, drove to the house from the Westbank when she heard the news of the shooting. She could not think of a reason why anyone would want to hurt the girl, she said.

“I don’t see how that happened. I’ve never seen [the victim] into it with nobody,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “But I’m not around all the time, and you can’t say what kids do and don’t do.”

NOPD Sixth District Bob Bardy discusses the shooting with community activist Barbara Lacen-Keller. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

NOPD Sixth District Bob Bardy discusses the shooting with community activist Barbara Lacen-Keller. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The shooting drew unusually quiet crowds all around the corner of Washington and Saratoga, right next to Lafayette Cemetery No. 2. Two women watching said they had only come over to see what happened, but that they didn’t know the family well.

“I hope they’re all right,” one of the women said quietly.

“The baby is dead,” the other woman replied. “How are they ‘all right’?”

The relative calm around the crime scene was broken only once, when a woman emerged from a nearby barroom shouting at the top of her lungs.

“This is Katrina! Water all over our fucking heads!” she cried to everyone around, but no one in particular. “A child gets fucking killed? It could have been my grandchild! This is Katrina!”

Lacen-Keller, an aide to City Councilwoman Stacy Head often described as the “mayor” of Central City, took immediate exception to the woman’s sentiment.

“Myself, personally — we’ve got to stop blaming everything on Katrina,” Lacen-Keller said. “I know this is the eighth anniversary of Katrina, today, but don’t use Katrina as a scapegoat. We all went through some stuff, but don’t use it as a scapegoat.”

An officer looks for evidence in a South Saratoga yard after the shooting. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

An officer looks for evidence in a South Saratoga yard after the shooting. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

[Note: This article was first published at 9:29 p.m. Thursday, and updated with new information continuously until 1:05 a.m. Friday]

8 thoughts on “Child, 1, killed; teen babysitter wounded in Central City shooting

    • Stop trying to blame the victims or throwing doubt at them. It was 8 pm. There is only one place to throw blame and that is the attackers. My thoughts and prayers go out to families.

      • Children who don’t get sufficient sleep or good nutrition suffer from stunted mental and emotional development.

        They are thus more likely to grow up to a) be unemployable, and/or b) make bad choices like getting involved in drugs and crime.

        Chunt’s comment reflects an unfortunate cycle whereby today’s “victims” become tomorrow’s “attackers.”

        • @Duke – you must not have any babies yourself. Kids, especially at that age, that don’t go to a daycare, or some other activity early in the morning, very often stay up past eight. They take naps in the car on the way to the grocery, they cut teeth – the reasons are numerous for taking a kid out of a walk outside.
          The problem here is the helplessness mindset and inactivity of the community, lack of parenting and leadership for the young men, general acceptance of their behavior by their peers, their parents (even if they disagree, there is a little done about standing up to this because of the fear of repercussion).
          I talked to a young man yesterday who had to brothers (out of 4) shot. I asked him if it was drugs. He told me that was only the case with one, but the other one was just a “friendship gone bad”. I think we need to find a way to teach our young people that may be, just may be there are ways of resolving conflict and dealing with emotions.

    • Perhaps she was walking the child to help lull her into sleep. I’ve done that many times myself with a cranky child. You take them outside or you drive them around in the car or you take them for a walk. Blaming the babysitter for the death of the child because she had her out at 8:15pm seems a little silly.

  1. “…But I’m not around all the time, and you cant say what kids do and dont do”- family friend

    hi
    There is more to this story than what were being told. It will not surprise me one bit, if the girl who was shot knew her attackers. In fact she may. well have been the inteded target. if she was hit in the back, as the report states, how is it the baby was hit from the front.
    This story is not adding up.
    why was no one else hit?
    Also where was the mother and father of this child at the time of the shooting.

    • I sometimes try to tell myself these things too. It was her fault, I am sure she was doing something wrong etc. all to reassure myself that it wont happen to me or those i love, it will keep happening to “them”. Hollow reassurances.

      • Reassurance against what? I was on the corner of Washington and S. Saratoga last night watching the investigation unfold. So Please insightful one, tell me what I would need reassurance for?
        Maybe this will reassure you, since you are having reassurance issues, that you then project on other people. Victims of violence know their attacker 3 to 1 vs victims who dont.

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