Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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In this image taken from video and provided Monday, May 13, 2013, by the New Orleans Police Department, a possible shooting suspect in a white shirt, bottom center, shoots into a crowd of people, Sunday in New Orleans. The possible suspect may have two accomplices in the Mother's Day gunfire that wounded 19 people during a New Orleans neighborhood parade. (AP Photo/New Orleans Police Department)
New Orleans police officer collects evidence at the scene of a shooting at the intersection Frenchman Street at N. Villere on Mother's Day in New Orleans, Sunday May 12, 2013. Gunmen opened fire on dozens of people marching in a Mother's Day neighborhood parade in New Orleans on Sunday, wounding at least 17, police said. (AP Photo/Doug Parker)
The shootings are bloody reminders of the persistence of violence in the city, despite some recent progress.
Last week, law enforcement officials touted the indictment of 15 people in gang-related crimes, including the death of a 5-year-old girl killed by stray gunfire at a birthday party a year ago.
The city's 193 homicides in 2012 are seven fewer than the previous year, while the first three months of 2013 represented an even slower pace of killing.
Leading efforts to lower the homicide rate is a police force that's faced its own internal problems and staffing issues. At about 1,200 members, the department is 300 short of its peak level.
Serpas, chief since 2010, has been working to overcome the effects of decades of scandal and community mistrust arising from what the U.S. Justice Department says has been questionable use of force and biased policing. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Serpas have instituted numerous reforms, but the city is at odds with the Justice Department over the cost and scope of more extensive changes.
Landrieu's administration initially agreed to a reform plan expected to cost tens of millions over the next several years. But Landrieu says he wants out now because Justice lawyers entered a separate agreement with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman over the violent and unsanitary New Orleans jail — funded by the city but operated by Gusman.
The site of the Sunday shooting — about 1.5 miles from the heart of the French Quarter — showcases other problems facing the city. Stubborn poverty and blight are evident in the area of middle-class and low-income homes. Like other areas hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the area has been slower to repopulate than wealthier areas. And Landrieu's stepped up efforts to demolish or renovate blighted properties — a pre-Katrina problem made worse by the storm — remain too slow for some.
Frank Jones, 71, whose house is a few doors down from the shooting site, said the house across from him has been abandoned since Katrina. Squatters and drug dealers sometimes take shelter there, he said.
A city code inspector, who declined to be interviewed, was there Monday
"It's too late," Jones said. "Should have fixed it from the very beginning. A lot of people are getting fed up with the system."
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New Orleans police officers investigate the scene at the intersection of Frenchmen and N. Villere Streets in New Orleans after gunfire at a Mother's Day second-line parade on Sunday, May 12, 2013. Police spokeswoman Remi Braden said in an email that many of the 17 victims were grazed and most of the wounds weren't life-threatening. No deaths were reported. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Michael DeMocker)
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Bystanders comfort a shooting victim while awaiting EMS at the intersection of Frenchmen and N. Villere Streets after authorities say gunfire injured at least a dozen people, including a child, at a Mother's Day second-line parade in New Orleans on Sunday, May 12, 2013. No deaths were reported. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Lauren McGaughy)