Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans police are still investigating a string of armed robberies Uptown, and on Sunday morning, the latest robber didn't make off with any money, but he shot popular chef Nathanial Zimet, leaving him in critical condition.
“He really is everything that the restaurant claims to be,” said James Denio, business partner of Boucherie Chef Nathanial Zimet.
Zimet is Boucherie, but Monday, the restaurant's main ingredient was missing.
“What happened? Craziness apparently,” Denio said.
After prepping all night to serve food at Sunday's Bayou Boogaloo, Zimet went home. Just before 5:30 a.m., neighbors heard a ruckus.
“My son came in the bedroom and kind of told me he heard something and then we heard two shots,” said Cade London, who lives across the street on South Saratoga from Zimet.
London said he was half asleep at the time his 8-year-old son came into his bedroom to wake him up, but he started hearing a constant car horn.
“My son is the hero in that because I thought it was just a cab trying to get somebody to come outside,” he said.
Neighbors said they believe that the armed robber walked up to Zimet while he was still in his truck, asked him where his money was, and then opened fire.
“I kind of went to the door [of the truck] and I asked him if he was OK. He was moaning at the time. I opened the door, and I discovered he had gotten shot,” London said.
The neighbors called an ambulance right away and likely saved Zimet’s life.
“He is conscious. And he's even walking today,” Denio said after speaking with family members at the hospital. Zimet was shot at least twice, once in the arm and once in the abdomen.
At Boucherie Monday, employees and others in the industry lent a hand since Zimet won’t be back to work for some time.
“I hit the floor. It's very unimaginable. I still can't fathom that it actually happened,” said Carly Junca, an event coordinator and cook.
Just two weeks ago, James and Nathanial appeared on the Eyewitness Morning News for a cooking segment in their trademark purple catering truck.
The pair was supposed to work the Bayou Boogaloo together on Sunday.
“Everyone just banded together and worked and they were all like, this day's on us,” Denio said.
Zimet doesn't have health insurance, and Sunday, they donated all their tips to help pay what will likely be extensive medical bills.
“It hit home," Junca said. "We know it happens every day. But it is very frustrating. They don't know who did it and there's nothing else we can do."
It's the tenth armed robbery New Orleans police have investigated Uptown in recent days.
“That's the same city that is, that I'm so angry with because horrible things happen, is the same city that I love so much,” Denio said.
A spokesman for the NOPD said he didn't know if investigators believe the robberies are related.
Family members have set up a fund to help with Zimet's medical bills in his name. You can donate at any Capitol One bank location.