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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans police are collecting evidence as they search for suspects in a horrific crime in the Garden District.

Police say a 30-year-old woman was taken at gunpoint around 6:45 p.m. Monday.

Three men reportedly approached the woman in the 1200 block of 8th Street as she was getting out of her car in front of her home.

Investigators say the men beat and sexually assaulted the victim as they drove around.

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas called it a crime of opportunity.

'I think it's way to early know exactly what happened,' said Serpas. 'But, this is a very infrequent type of crime in the city of New Orleans.'

According to police, about an hour after her abduction, the men dropped her off at the corner of 8th and Chestnut, at which time police say they stole her car keys, then drove off in her 1999 silver Honda Accord, license plate number OUZ-831.

The victim knocked on neighbor Elizabeth Gambard's door, looking for help.

'She was bleeding about the face and my daughter didn't recognize her and this a woman we see every day,' said Gambard. 'It's very unsettling.'

Gambard says she leaned over to comfort the victim and the woman stopped her.

'She said don't touch me. I'm evidence. I said did they violate you? And she said yes.'

Other neighbors complain about an uptick in crime in the Garden District in recent years.

'I've talked to all the merchants too and they don't know what to do,' said Lonnie Brewley, who also lives on 8th Street. 'People are getting mugged over there on 7th. It's just everywhere. We left our house last night to go out to dinner, right when that happened. So, you know, it's just horrible, horrible.'

Police describe the suspects as African American in their early to mid 20s.

'I know that there is a tremendous amount of physical evidence and scientific evidence has been collected overnight and through today and some of it will be video,' said Serpas. 'We just don't know the quality of it yet. Our message to these perpetrators is we know a whole lot more about you than you think we know. You may want to consider your options of turning yourself in.'

The EMSresponse time to that incident was much slower than usual.

According to EMS spokesman Jeb Tate, the initial call came in at 7:32 p.m., but because of heavy demand, an EMS unit was not able to arrive until 7:51 p.m.

He said then chaos at the scene kept paramedics outside for another six minutes until they realized the victim had already been driven to the hospital.

NOPD confirms a 6th District officer brought the victim to the hospital. Serpas said his officers got to the scene within eight minutes.

Once again, police are searching for a 1999, silver 4-door Honda Accord, license plate number OUZ-831.

If you've seen the car or know anything about this crime, you are urged to call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

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