NEW ORLEANS – The search continued Tuesday for two men wanted in a brutal beating of tourists in the French Quarter that’s left one victim in critical condition. So far, two of the four suspects have turned themselves in to New Orleans Police custody.
Investigators say one suspect turned to his pastor and confessed his crime.
At the foot of Greater Full Gospel Church in Central City, on a corner notorious for violence, Pastor Dr. Leonard Banks speaks through his microphone.
“I’m out here every night, me and my wife and some of my members, spreading the word,” Banks said.
In nearly a half century preaching the gospel, Banks says he has seen it all
“Behind my church, I’ve seen a young man. He got shot. Another young man got shot,” Banks said. “I have had about 500 funerals.”
After witnessing so much violence, the pastor welcomes what he heard about one of the suspects in the vicious attack in the French Quarter. Police say Dejuan Paul, the man who punched a tourist from behind on Bienville Street, eventually confessed the crime to his preacher.
“His pastor contacted us, and we made some arrangements for us to come and get him,” NOPD Commander Nicholas Gernon said. “The second individual, a citizen contacted us to tell us where to find him and we located him at that location.”
Banks said New Orleans needs more stories like that.
“I feel very proud and good about that,” Banks said. “We need more of that!”
Paul and Joshua Simmons are now in custody. Investigators are still looking for Rashad Piper and Nicholas Polgowski.
“We have still yet to find them,” Superintendent Michael Harrison said. “But I’m urging them to turn themselves in. They should not make it harder on themselves than it has to be.”
Eyewitness News has also learned that three of the suspects lived at Covenant House on Rampart Street – a nonprofit helping homeless, runaways and at-risk youth.
Pastor Banks says many young people in the city need guidance.
“If the young folks will listen. So, we have to sit down and talk with them and convince them that there’s a better way,” Banks said.
Until then, Pastor Banks will continue taking his message from the pulpit to the sidewalk.