*This story was published before last week's incident where three people, including a child, were shot on I-10 and before a Pearl River woman said her family's vehicle appears to have been shot at while driving through New Orleans East
NEW ORLEANS -- Despite the still-lingering trauma of having a stranger fire two bullets into her car while she was driving along I-10 through New Orleans on Tuesday, Katie Dixon returned to the city Friday.
Dixon came back to file a police report and hand over evidence that a repairman pulled from the inside of her vehicle: bullet fragments.
“It’s just horrifying,” she said. “Stop this. Put a stop to it, police department. We've got to make people aware of this.”
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Dixon's case is just the most recent in a troubling and still unexplained spike in shootings along I-10 within the city limits. Just two days earlier, a shooting on I-10 near the Vieux Carre exit left one man injured and disrupted traffic for hours.
The NOPD recorded 17 such shootings in five years between 2010 and 2015, according to city records. Over the 18 months since the start of 2016, 21 cases have been reported.
“When you dig into the numbers you see that, yes, these are increasing like crazy at this point,” WWL-TV crime analyst Jeff Asher said. “And without being able to solve a high percentage of these cases, the reasons are a mystery.”
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison says his officers are still searching for answers.
“Detectives and officers are always working internally and with other agencies to ascertain if they're connected. If they are, certainly we're going to prosecute that,” Harrison said. “But we need to be proactive and create an environment and culture that tells criminals this is not a good place or time to commit crime because you're going to get caught.”
Despite this alarming trend, Asher points out that there are still very remote odds of being shot at while driving on I-10, although far less remote than six years ago.
From 2010 to 2015, shootings on I-10 accounted for 0.67 percent of all shootings in New Orleans. In 2016, the number jumped to 2.5 percent. So far in 2017, interstate shootings make up 3.3 percent of all shootings, Asher said.
“I can't give you a statistic on whether you're more or less likely to be struck by lightning or win the lottery than be struck by gunfire on the interstate, but it's still a highly rare event,” Asher said. “Troubling, but still rare.”