NEW ORLEANS - At a busy intersection next to Tulane University, three young people held up two victims around 9:30 Thursday night, said police. The suspected armed robbers are 12, 13, and 14 years old.
“Really disturbing, I think everyone would agree with that,” said Amanda Hunt, who live nearby. “Thankfully no one was hurt.”
The crime happened at Broadway and Oak Street. Police were able to capture the suspects shortly after the crime near Maple Street and South Carrollton Avenue. One of the suspects had a BB gun and a skull mask allegedly worn during the robbery.
“We've done a good job of capturing these armed robbers when they commit these crimes so they're not able to commit these acts,” said Second District Police Commander Paul Noel. “That's caused our armed robberies to fall significantly.”
Noel said armed robberies in the second district, which encompasses the Uptown area, have fallen 55 percent this year to date. There have been 16 armed robberies in the second district so far this year, compared with 40 this time last year.
Police hope the latest arrest will serve as a wake-up call for the suspects.
“I believe this definitely can be a turning point for these kids,” said Noel. “I do believe they can be turned around.”
The city says it's working to curb crime by giving young people positive options, like playing basketball at recently reopened NORD facilities. But NORD officials say they can only do so much.
“The community is rallying around seeing the changes in NORD, but we can't stop [crime] and do it all,” said NORD Director Victor Richard. “It's got to start in the home.”
NORD recently re-opened three facilities, like the Lyons Center on Louisiana Avenue. Midnight basketball begins Saturday.
Police say it's just in time to help curb the typical summer spike in juvenile-related crime, though they haven't seen an increase yet this year.
Juvenile arrests in general are down over the last five years, said Joshua Perry, director of Juvenile Regional Services, a non-profit law office that functions as the public defender for young people in New Orleans.
Still, more must be done.
“Any amount of delinquency is too much because it means we're letting our kids down,” said Perry.
Perry says it's up to society as a whole to give kids the opportunity to thrive and make sure they don't fall through the cracks.
Police say they continue to strictly enforce the citywide curfew. During the summer, parents have to accompany children under the age of 17 if they are outside after 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and after 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
In the French Quarter and the part of the Marigny, that includes Frenchmen Street. Those under the age of 17 must be home by 8 p.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.