NEW ORLEANS — So far, there have been no arrests in the latest shooting at the blighted and abandoned old Navy base in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans.
The gunfire drew a heavy police presence to Poland Avenue around 8:30, Tuesday night. Judy Bolton was walking a friend to her car, not far from the base.
“We start to walk down the street to her car, and we heard, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, like nonstop,” Bolton said. “I’ve never heard so much gunfire at one time.”
James Warpup is among the homeless living on the fifth floor of the complex.
“A lot of gunfire coming from a single point, sounded like one guy shooting,” Warpup said. “There was no screaming. Nobody seems to have gotten hurt.”
New Orleans police rushed to the scene and set up a perimeter around the base. Patrons at nearby bars and restaurants couldn’t leave for a time while the NOPD searched for a shooter.
Neighbors like Joe Brown were asked to stay inside.
“We’ve had it,” Brown said. “We’re really fed up. We’re not getting the protection we need in this neighborhood and we’re sick of it.”
The Navy closed the base and gave it to the city in good condition more than ten years ago. Now, the complex is blighted, full of vagrants and a magnet for crime.
There have been fires, shootings, and murders there over the years. Jenny Breen lives nearby and owns a restaurant in the Bywater.
“There’s just an underlining fear all the time, every day, living down here,” Breen said.
The latest city chosen developer Joe Jaeger has submitted a proposal to build 300 affordable apartments in the building closest to Poland Avenue.
“They keep saying they’re going to do something, but they never do,” Brown said.
“All talk and no action,” Breen said.
Neighbors want the site cleared and secured.
"No one’s allowed to let this happen on their watch,” Bolton said. “But somehow the city of New Orleans is. That’s not okay. Not okay for me, you or anyone in the city.”
Warpup points out not everyone living at the old base is a criminal.
“People don’t seem to want to talk to us,” he said. “They don’t want to resolve the problems with us, they want to either throw us out and they don’t care where or put us into institutional housing which is difficult for many of us for many different reasons.”
According to the NOPD, police were unable to find any shooting suspects.
People who were detained near the scene were interviewed and released.