Last Sunday afternoon (June 6) around 6:15 I was driving toward the river on Canal Street waiting for a light to change on the block between South Rampart St. and University Place (Now called “Roosevelt Way”). All was quiet, especially for Canal Street, until…
In the next block I noticed a male, probably in his mid-20s, wearing a red shirt and dark shorts running across Canal toward the French Quarter side. This was no run for exercise, rather it was frantic, as though his life was in danger. It was. I looked to the right and saw another male, probably around the same age, and wearing a dark shirt standing on the curb, pulled something from beneath his waist band, took aim, and fired – three maybe four shots. It all happened so fast.
Gunshots when witnessed live have a horrendous sound. They echo off the buildings and are no doubt psychologically amplified by the horror of the moment. Then for an instant there is the frightening thought, what if he had turned his gun toward those of us stuck in traffic.
Some pedestrians and drivers in the vicinity had not seen the incident; others did and had the same thought that I did, “let’s get the hell away from here.” People began to scatter. Vehicles made hasty left turns ignoring the stop lights and now facing a fine from the traffic cameras.
There was no indication that the target male had been hit – no scream, no gathering crowd. I did notice that the shooter was running up University Place away from Canal Street past pedestrians who did not realize that a possible killer had just sprinted past them. In the distance I could see the target male running up the streetcar path toward the river.
Though the bullets had missed him they had to hit something. There were no reports of an innocent bystander being shot, but now tourists could probably view genuine 21st century bullet holes dug into local businesses facades.
Amazingly, within 20 minutes or so hardly anyone was aware of what had happened. Traffic lights changed; vehicles moved; pedestrians scurried to make their restaurant reservations. There was a whole new set of people traversing Canal Street.
Because there was no victim there was no news. None of the media had coverage about it. Yet the incident was a prelude to a week that would be filled with shootings in which the bullets hit their targets. Worse yet, one of the week’s most shocking crimes would be the carjacking and murder of a woman who was beloved in her neighborhood. The weapon was not a gun, but a knife.
As for the intended victim – the male in red: He had survived but he should be worried. He probably knew his attempted assailant. They will probably meet again.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 9:30 A.M. SUNDAYS.WYES-TV, CH. 12.