NEW ORLEANS – Business surveillance video in the CBD Sunday shows five armed robbery suspects, some wearing hats, others in hooded sweatshirts, and one in a mask.
Police say the robbers first held up a 72-year-old man at O'Keefe and Julia Street around 7:40 p.m. Sunday, demanding his wallet at gunpoint, then removing cash and returning the wallet.
Police say just a few minutes later and a few blocks away, at Julia Street and St. Charles Avenue, the suspects tried to commit another armed robbery, but when the couple they approached refused to hand over cash, the suspects fired shots, grazing one of the victims in the neck.
“Each and everyone of these victims we feel what they're going through, we want to get these people caught,” said New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
Those who live and work in the CBD say the rare crime in the neighborhood has them on edge.
“At night sometimes I walk home that late, and wow, when you read a story like that, it kind of bends your ear back,” said Pedro Galeas, who recently moved to the CBD, where he has a private law firm.
“Oh my God. In this area?” said Khristy Toussaint, an employee of a Fed-Ex location in the 700 block of St. Charles. “Wow. Now I'll be looking over my shoulders, make sure someone walks me to my car because now I have to look out for these guys going around robbing people.”
The CBD is an economic engine for New Orleans, filled with condos, businesses, and, often, tourists. What’s more, thousands will visit the CBD this weekend for the NBA All Star game.
“Our officers will be on 12 hour shifts, we have 100 or more troopers coming in to help us,” said Serpas.
Police say it's possible the group could be connected to other armed robberies. There has also been a recent spike in the French Quarter, Broadmoor and Uptown.
But authorities say surveillance video is helpful in making arrests. They cite four recent arrests in other armed robberies.
Crimemapping.com shows more than 130 armed robberies and carjackings throughout New Orleans so far this year. That's nearly three per day.
Police say they have already received several tips in the CBD armed robberies, and may be close to making an arrest.
If you have any information that could help police, call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.