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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The heavy rain didn't stop concerned citizens from showing up to an Uptown crime forum Monday night.

The community meeting was sparked by a spike in home invasions and sexual assaults in the Carrollton neighborhood where residents want the NOPD to put an end to the disturbing trend.

'Feel safe out at night or having kids play outside -- I don't think things like that have gone away. But, things like this just give you a moment for pause,' said Central Carrollton Association (CCA) President Chris Canary.

Canary's lived in the neighborhood for almost a decade. Up until recently, Canary and other neighbors felt safe.

'Every neighborhood has crime. It never got to this level,' said 17-year-old Carrollton resident Randolph Pembrook, who joined others inside Mount Triumph Baptist Church for a crime forum hosted by the CCA.

The goal was to help tackle a recent spike in home invasions and sexual assaults in the area.

'What happened here in the last few weeks is regrettable, it's reprehensible. What is reprehensible about it is people lost their innocence, people lost their sense of safety,' said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas addressing the crowd.

Serpas, along with NOPD Second District Commander Paul Noel, updated the community on the police department's investigations.

Last week, the NOPD says two men -- Daniel Adams and Rosel Guillen-Mendez -- were arrested for at least four home invasions in the area.

Police also responded to a home invasion on Hickory Street after neighbors reported hearing a woman screaming. The NOPD says 21-year-old James Johnson was caught raping the woman. He's been arrested, and police say he may be connected to at least another home invasion on Panola Street.

Detectives are also investigating a home invasion on Adams Street. The NOPD is looking to see which, if any, of the cases are connected.

'The answer to that is we're not sure yet. Our detectives are exploring that. We don't have any suspects on Adams. The physical descriptions on Adams are different from the three individuals we have in custody,' said Commander Noel.

Also on many minds at the crime forum was an attempted strangulation on Green Street. Police say a man broke into a woman's apartment brandishing a rope and attacked her.

Serpas said the man detectives are looking for has distinct features.

'Just think about that description, he's very heavily muscled, short-short-short blonde, almost white hair, jaw like an athlete,' said Serpas.

Even if just for a few hours, the forum was a chance for Carrollton residents to ask NOPD leadership tough questions about unsettling crimes.

'We have a nice neighborhood. It's full of senior adults that need people to look out for them,' said Pembrook.

The NOPD reminded residents to reporting suspicious activity immediately.

The CCA says installing crime cameras, starting neighborhood watch programs, keeping porch lights on overnight and locking doors were other crime prevention strategies being encouraged in the area.

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