Man accused in spree of purse thefts from SUVs at Audubon, other parks

An alleged purse thief who specifically preyed on SUVs in the parking lots of major parks has been charged in a spree of auto burglaries near Audubon Park, police said Wednesday. An investigation into auto break-ins around City Park led detectives to search the home of 24-year-old Michael A. Short, where they found credit cards and drivers’ licenses that could eventually link him to 30 or 40 burglaries, said Sgt. Warren Keller of the NOPD Second District property-crimes division. Among the stolen cards were a debit card stolen July 11 and a credit card stole Aug. 2, both from cars parked right by Audubon Park, Keller said, and detectives are following up on three more cards also believed to be linked to Audubon Park auto break-ins.

With a new playground awarded, French charter school looks to future facility plans

With a KaBOOM! playground on the way to its Claiborne Avenue campus, the new French-immersion charter school opening this month in Uptown New Orleans is set to discuss longer-term planning for a home for its students at a meeting Monday. Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans will have students at two locations this year, the First Presbyterian Church on South Claiborne Avenue and at Audubon Zoo. The Claiborne location, where three classes of 3- and 4-year-olds will attend, has recently been awarded a grant for a KaBOOM! playground, principal Jill Otis said in an email to parents.

Three Uptown robberies reported this week, with suspects identified in each

Three armed robberies have been reported in Uptown New Orleans in as many days, but police have made arrests in one, linked it to the second, and identified a separate suspect in the third, authorities said Wednesday. The most recent robbery was 11 p.m. Tuesday, when a man walking on Freret Street near Nashville Avenue felt a tap on his shoulder from behind and turned to see two teenagers pointing guns at him, said Sgt. Chris Billiot of the NOPD Second District persons-crimes division. The teens searched the man, took his wallet, his Blackberry cell phone and his iPod, then fled on bicycles they had stashed nearby, Billiot said. An officer about eight blocks away saw two teens on bicycles and tried to stop them, but they took off, though police caught up to both.

“Hands Across the Sand” to call for action Saturday to protect the Gulf

Organized by local representatives from the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network, the “Hands Across the Sand” movement will come to the riverside park behind Audubon Zoo at 11 a.m. Saturday. According to Jonathan Henderson of the Gulf Restoration Network:

Let’s all take a moment this Saturday and join hands to protect our coasts from dangerous offshore drilling and to restore the Gulf of Mexico. For the second annual “Hands Across the Sand” worldwide event, we will be standing together with tens of thousands of people all over the world to make a positive statement for a clean energy future. This is a good time for us all to refelect upon the disaster that unfolded on our beaches and shores all across the Gulf, and to show unity as we move forward in the fight for our collective healthy Gulf future. It’s been over a year since the BP drilling disaster began and Congress has yet to pass legislation to restore or protect the Gulf or our communities. Officials worry about New Orleans levees if Morganza is not opened

As floodwaters make their way down the Mississippi, officials are concerned about potentially devastating levee breaches in New Orleans that could inundate Uptown if the Morganza spillway is not opened, according to reporting by Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune. “We have a good bit of experience dealing with seepage and sand boils, saturated soil conditions when the river stages are around 17 feet,” Bob Turner, executive director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, told the newspaper. “Once the river gets over 17.5 feet, I don’t know that we’ve got a lot of experience dealing with those same issues. Seepage and sand boils, that uncertainty gives us some concern. My gut is if it gets higher, it’s going to be more difficult to keep those things under control.”

Kermit Ruffins headlines two-day Soul Fest at Audubon Zoo this weekend

Audubon Zoo’s Soul Fest will feature Kermit Ruffins and a number of other jazz, hip-hop, gospel and R&B performers as well as soul food and cultural displays Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Last year’s festival drew an estimated 21,000 attendees, according to the park. See below for a complete lineup of performers each day. Saturday

11 a.m. Opening Remarks
11:05 a.m. National Anthem
11:10 a.m. Thelonious Monk Institute
12 p.m. African American Firsts
12:45 p.m. Tara Alexander
1:45 p.m. Michael “Soulman” Baptiste
2:45 p.m. Clark Knighten & 4×4 Connection (Tribute to Teena Marie)
3:45 p.m. Kermit Ruffins


11 a.m. Opening Remarks
11:05 a.m. National Anthem
11:10 a.m. Thelonious Monk Institute
11:45 a.m. Lyle Henderson/w Emmanuel
12:45 p.m. BRW
1:45 p.m. Phillip Manuel
2:45 p.m. Gina Brown
3:45 p.m. Chocolate Milk

For more information, visit Audubon Zoo’s website.