NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans police are searching for two men who allegedly kidnapped and raped a 19-year-old woman at gunpoint.
Neighbors are on edge after learning the suspects grabbed the victim around 3 a.m. Sunday as she was walking down the 700 Block of North Villere Street in Treme.
'It's shocking that it happened in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood has been very, very quite and peaceful,' said long-time resident Louis Charbonnet.
According to police, two men driving a gray Ford Focus pulled up beside her, jumped out, covered her face with a towel and forced her into the car. Once inside the car, the men threatened to shoot her if she screamed.
Police say the two men took her to an unknown wooded area in St. John the Baptist Parish and raped her. Afterwards, they brought her to the 2600 block of Augusta Street in Kenner. There she flagged down a neighbor who then called police.
'Just to have that happen anywhere is just horrendous that this would happen,' Charbonnet said.
Charbonnet has not only grown up in this neighborhood, but he is also a very active member of the Historic Faubourg Treme Neighborhood Association. He said a crime like this is certainly a concerning one.
'It will be discussed as to what we should do. We will check the lighting in that neighborhood to see if the lights were on,' says Charbonnet. 'Criminals don't like light, they really don't. They like dark spots, they like spots that are isolated, and behind that park is very much isolated.'
Charbonnet said they have tried without success to get the city to create a pedestrian entrance at the back of the park near North Villere Street, as well as add more lighting.
Until that happens, though, he is urging residents to be more vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
'In any neighborhood, whether it's Treme or the French Quarter, you should not be alone at that time of night,' says Charbonnet.
The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's office says investigators are working with the victim to pinpoint exactly where the sexual assault took place.
Police say both suspects are black. One suspect is described to be in his late teens or early 20s, with a thin build, thin mustache and short faded haircut.
The second suspect has a muscular build with dreadlocks that are black on top and bleached on the ends.
The vehicle was described as a Ford Focus, possibly a 2005 model, with a hatch back.
If you have any information that could help police, you are urged to call Crimestoppers at 822-1111.