A A 60-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint at the edge of the Garden District July 18, making a total of 11 robberies in the area in 11 days.
With the exception of a trio of attacks by bat-wielding teens, most of the cases do not show clear links to one another, New Orleans police officials said last week. Significant evidence, such as photos or DNA, has been recovered in most of the cases, however, so the investigations all are considered active.
In one case, a visitor was in the 1200 block of Harmony Street (near Camp Street) about 9:40 a.m., when she noticed a dark-colored sedan nearby, Sgt. Daniel Scanlan said during the weekly meeting of the 6th District leadership. The driver of the sedan got out, pointed a gun at her and demanded her purse, then got back into the car and drove off, Scanlan said. A witness described the car as a new black Kia with a temporary license tag in the window and a Ray Brandt dealer plate in the license plate holder — a description so specific it should prove a promising lead, Scanlan said.
That robbery came on the heels of a rash of other muggings, carjackings and a home invasion in the Garden District and Lower Garden District areas that 6th District detectives are investigating as well:
• A woman was robbed at gunpoint by a man just before 3 a.m. July 7 at Annunciation and Thalia streets.
• A man who parked near Clio and Carondelet streets around 9 p.m. July 8 was attacked by two men who punched him and stole his keys and his white Ford Focus. The car was found later on Calais Street in eastern New Orleans, Scanlan said, and several items found inside the vehicle are being tested DNA. That case may have be linked to a similar carjacking about a month earlier, Lt. Frank Young said at the 6th District meeting. Both vehicles were found in the same area, he said, and investigators are waiting to see if the DNA is a match.
• A man walking in the 2500 block of Magazine Street around 11:15 p.m. July 8 was robbed by two men, one of whom hit him in the head with a gun before fleeing with his partner in a silver vehicle. Scanlan said detectives have obtained video of the suspects and have received information about the case, so they expect to identify the suspects soon.
• Three robberies on Clio, Camp and Coliseum streets were committed around 11 p.m. July 10 by three people wielding a baseball bat. In one case the suspects allegedly beat their victim so severely he had to be hospitalized. One of the suspects, Keith Williams, was chased by a witness, caught by police and identified in connection with all three incidents, police said. Surveillance video in the area showed a second suspect with Williams just before the arrest. Williams also is suspected in several other robberies of iPhones by "brute force" in the French Quarter and eastern New Orleans, Young said, and investigators are examining possible accomplices in those cases to determine who might have been with Williams the night of the Lower Garden District spree.
• On July 12, a 23-year-old woman walking home from work late at night in the 1600 block of Terpsichore Street was confronted by a man with a knife who demanded her purse. She was cut several times by the knife as the two struggles. Video was obtained in the case, and images were released of a black man in his late twenties or early thirties, about 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds. He is considered armed and dangerous, police officials said.
• Around 4:30 a.m. July 14, a 29-year-old man in the back parking lot of a home in the 2300 block of Magazine Street was ordered inside by gunmen who forced him into a closet while they took his belongings. Police also are working several leads in that case, Young said, but declined to elaborate.
• Earlier the same night, about 2 a.m., a man was walking along Tchoupitoulas Street on his way home from the Warehouse District when a white Lincoln Navigator pulled up alongside him, Young said. From a rear window, a man asked where he was going, then got out with a gun, poked him with the weapon and ordered him into the car, Young said. A woman drove the SUV while the gunman and another man went through the victim's pockets. They pushed him out of the vehicle shortly afterward, Young said. The robbery was not reported until two days later, Young said. Detectives have identified several locations along the route the SUV took that may have video, he said.
• In the July 18 case, the victim was at the corner of Eighth and Carondelet street around 12:30 p.m. when he was approached by a man with a black handgun who took his belongings and fled, according to the initial report.
The robberies come after a lull of several months. Over the last year, the entire 6th District has averaged only one armed robbery per week, crime statistics show. At the half-year point, the district was down 62 percent in armed robberies over the same period in 2012.
"This is so far out of our character," 6th District Commander Bob Bardy said of the robberies.
While the investigative leads represent the most direct avenue to stopping robberies, Bardy instructed his lieutenants to examine their patrol officers' activity. Vehicle stops and arrests in the district were down significantly over the same period, which, Bardy said, makes no sense when crime is happening. Bardy also noted that 15 people have been identified are wanted on warrants for various property crimes, and he instructed his task force to find and arrest those people.
So far this year, the district has seen 31 robberies, still down about 45 percent from the 57 recorded by this point last year.
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