The New Orleans Police Department arrested four teenagers Tuesday (Dec. 21) in connection with a rash of carjackings, armed robberies and auto thefts that occurred in several Uptown neighborhoods beginning on Sunday (Dec. 19) around 4 p.m.
Three of the suspects are juveniles, including a 13-year-old boy who was linked to all eight crimes listed by the NOPD. The other juvenile suspects are a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old male.
One adult, 19-year-old DeQuantis Ford, remained jailed Friday (Dec. 24) in connection with four of the incidents. His bond was set at $190,000.
“I want to commend investigators from the First, Second, Fifth, and Sixth districts, VCAIT [Violent Crime Abatement Investigation Team] unit and our Special Operations Division for mobilizing quickly and collaborating across districts to stop this group from preying on the citizens of this city,” NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said Thursday in a press conference.
During the investigation of an armed carjacking in the 1100 block of Lowerline Street early Tuesday, police obtained information that led them to the 6300 block of Chef Menteur Highway, where they found the four suspects, Ferguson said.
“Units were able to quickly converge on the area with the Special Operations Division, executing a search warrant and apprehending these four individuals,” Ferguson said. Multiple items believed to be stolen in the incidents were recovered at the location.
The Lowerline carjacking took place in the University area at about 6:35 a.m. on Tuesday. A 2019 Nissan Altima was stolen at gunpoint from two women and a man. Their wallets and cellphones were also stolen.
Police said at the time that two to three males committed the armed carjacking. In a release on Thursday, the NOPD stated the three males and the female face charges in the incident.
Around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, information from citizens about the University area crime led to the arrests and the evidence linking the suspects to multiple incidents.
The first of these incidents took place Sunday (Dec. 19) in the Black Pearl. The police report states that a woman was parking her car in the 500 block of Lowerline when two men took her purse and keys and fled in her black 2013 Infiniti G37.
The 13-year-old is also the sole arrestee linked to that incident and to two others on Sunday: an attempted carjacking and an attempted armed robbery that took place in quick succession in the St. Roch neighborhood.
Just after 5:30 p.m., a woman was approached by an armed juvenile while sitting in her vehicle in the 2400 block of North Johnson Street. She drove off after he demanded her vehicle. At 5:39 p.m. in the 1800 block of Almonaster Avenue, some juveniles tried to carjack a man but fled after he refused to turn over his keys.
All four suspects are implicated in a string of crimes in Uptown neighborhoods on Monday and Tuesday, the NOPD said.
The first was an armed carjacking in the 4100 block of Annunciation Street, in the Touro-Bouligny neighborhood, on Monday (Dec. 20) at about 10:20 p.m.
An hour later, a 59-year-old man thwarted a carjacking attempt in Broadmoor. He was in his car in the 4200 block of South Prieur Street when a man and woman walked up. The man pulled at his door handle while pointing a gun, but the victim refused to open the door and the two fled.
The four suspects are also linked to an auto theft that took place at about 3 a.m. the next morning (Dec. 21) in 7900 block of Freret Street and to an attempted carjacking a few blocks away at about 6:20 a.m., as well as the carjacking on Lowerline about 15 minutes later.
According to Sheriff’s Office records, Ford faces three counts of armed robbery, one count of theft of a motor vehicle, two counts of attempted armed robbery, one count of criminal damage to property and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of juveniles. The potential charges against the juveniles were not released.
Asked about whether the juveniles could be back on the streets after the arrest, Ferguson said, “I can’t say it happens often, but in some cases we have seen the same juveniles.”
Once they arrest a juvenile and submit the report, the case is out of police hands, he noted. “It is then incumbent upon the district attorney to determine whether they would like to prosecute these charges,” Ferguson said, “And at that time, it is left in the judge’s hands as to what will happen to them going forward.”
He indicated the NOPD had been working with the court on the problem. “What I can also say is, in having a conversation with juvenile court judges, we also we realized that we have seen some of our offenders reoffending,” he said, “but we also begin to see some of the juveniles being held a little bit longer.”
Ferguson commented further on the crimes committed by New Orleans teenagers.
“They look at this like a video game, like Grand Theft Auto,” he said. “They think they can just run up on a car, carjack someone and it’s just a game to them.
“Meanwhile, we have mentally placed our citizens in a situation where they are truly fearing for their lives,” he continued. “So unfortunately, the juveniles are looking at this as a game — but it’s not a game whatsoever. And that is why we, as the criminal justice system, must hold them accountable for their actions.”