Neighbors say Lower Ninth Ward mass shooting happened at short-term rental property

Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 5:20 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Crime tape clung to nearby trees and stop signs where a holiday party turned into a deadly mass shooting Monday morning (Dec. 26).

New Orleans police said two 19-year-olds -- a man and a woman -- were shot and killed at a house near the corner of St. Maurice Avenue and North Galvez Street around 12:30 a.m. Their identities have not been disclosed.

Police also said two 18-year-old men were rushed to the hospital by ambulance and two female victims, aged 18 and 17, arrived seeking hospital treatment in a private vehicle.

The NOPD said the four wounded people had injuries not considered to be life-threatening.

Police said detectives still are in the preliminary stages of the investigation, and did not indicate whether they had developed suspects or a motive for the mass shooting.

“These young people were doing what we all did as young people -- enjoying a party -- when someone came in and decided they were going to take others’ lives and injure others,“ said Darlene Cusanza, CEO of Crimestoppers GNO. “We have to allow our young people to be able to have these experiences safely.”

Cusanza announced a $5,000 Crimestoppers cash reward for anyone who has information that leads to an arrest.

Meanwhile, neighbors such as Lionel Dixon are counting their blessings.

Dixon lives across the street from the house where the shooting happened. He said he slept through the commotion, but isn’t shocked that it happened where it did.

“(A) 19-year-old, 17-year-old being shot up like that is unconscionable,” Dixon said.

He said the property has been used for short-term rentals and has been allowing parties and events on the site for about a year. He said the gatherings have become more rowdy and violent, including Monday’s mass shooting and another incident on May 28. On that night, the NOPD said there was another shooting and illegal use of weapons.

“One time, they were hiding in my yard,” Dixon said. “They had this shooting over here. They were all jumping the fence. I mean, you can probably still find some shoes and eyeglasses over here. They were teenagers.”

Dixon said many in his Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood are concerned, not only about the parties but also for how easy they seem to be for minors to arrange.

“They have contact with how to rent this place,” he said. “Maybe it’s on social media that this is the ‘happening’ place. It seems there is no supervision, no adults that say, ‘This has gone too far.’”

The short-term rental issue also concerns the district’s city councilman, Oliver Thomas.

“Someone bought a house and it’s an event house now,” Thomas said. “That’s illegal. That’s illegal. From blight to litter to murder, we have to be as aggressive as the people who want to break the rules are. They are more aggressive than us. That can’t be.”

Thomas said he’s calling on more city enforcement to manage short-term rentals and wants to see the NOPD bring back task forces with local and federal agencies, in order to keep criminals in check.

“Not profiling, not stereotyping. But if they’re extremely aggressive, then we need to be aggressive in stopping them. Period,” Thomas said.

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