NEW ORLEANS - Celeste Broussard was dropping off a friend after a housewarming party around midnight Monday in the Irish Channel when the unthinkable happened.
Broussard had just parked her blue 2002 Toyota Highlander in the 1000 block of Sixth Street, near Magazine Street, when she and her friend saw two men walking past.
Broussard and her friend didn’t think much of it at first, but when they got out of the vehicle, the men turned around and one pulled out a gun.
“They told us to throw the keys down. My fried threw the keys down on the ground,” said Broussard. “One of the guys was just yelling, ‘Shoot him, shoot him, shoot him!’ Screaming it, and I heard the gun go off.”
Then, the two men picked up the keys and made off with Broussard's vehicle.
“I wasn't worried about the car at that point, I asked my friend if he had been shot. Thank God he hadn't,” said Broussard.
Police recovered a single shell casing from the scene. No one was hurt, but it is unclear if anything was hit.
Police later recovered the SUV in good condition miles away, in a wooded area off Prentiss Avenue near Pontchartrain Park in Gentilly. Police have processed the vehicle and are awaiting lab results on fingerprints and DNA.
“It was kind of eerie. It seemed like a dream rather than like something was actually happening,” said the other victim of the carjacking, who asked not to be identified.
Both Broussard and her friend say they were unable to get a detailed description of the suspects. There appear to be no surveillance cameras on the street, and both victims believe the carjacking highlights the need for more crime cameras in the area.
“Kind of wish I had them up now and I definitely will be looking into them in the future,” said Broussard’s friend.
A growing number of neighborhoods are installing a network of surveillance cameras in an effort to combat crime. The Irish Channel has been looking into doing just that since last year.
“My office stands ready to support it 100 percent,” said Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. The Irish Channel is part of her district.
Cantrell said she's ready to bolster the effort with grant money once the neighborhood association applies for it.
“When they're ready for me to act and they want to have access to those grant dollars, I'm ready,” said Cantrell.
Her office has granted money for crime cameras to other neighborhoods in her district through a grant that Harrah’s casino gives to council members.
Meanwhile, those like Broussard say they're a little more alert and hope the robbers are caught soon.
The suspects are described as two black males. One had a white stocking cap over his head.
Police believe the carjacking was a random crime of opportunity. They are looking into whether the suspects live in the area where the vehicle was recovered.
If you have any information that could help police, call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.