NEW ORLEANS — A second victim has died in Wednesday’s quadruple shooting in Uptown New Orleans, a brazen open-air drive-by attack just as the young men were wrapping up their work at a construction site.
To Angela Chalk and others who knew the men, the broad daylight shooting was made even more tragic because of the tough circumstances they were trying to overcome, including their own run-ins with the law.
“These were young working Black men against all the odds that we hear about Black men in our community,” said Chalk, executive director of Healthy Community Services.
“What does this say when we tell our children that you can change your life and not be judged by your past when someone can come up and randomly take your life away from you?”
The men were working on a green infrastructure drainage project at New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of General Taylor and Annunciation streets. Witnesses said four men in a pickup truck jumped out, firing dozens of gunshots.
The two men killed had criminal histories. One of the victims, 19, was awaiting trial in New Orleans on an attempted murder charge. The other, 25, had served time as a juvenile in connection with a drug-related killing in Missouri. WWL-TV is withholding their names until their families are notified.
But Chalk saw beyond their previous troubles. She saw the men putting their past behind them, working for Groundwork New Orleans, a non-profit specializing in green infrastructure projects.
Their mentor, Groundwork New Orleans Director Todd Reynolds, said at the scene Wednesday that the brazen shooting took him by surprise.
“This particular work site, we've been here for six months. We come in, we do our work, we laugh, we joke, we go home,” Reynolds said.
Chalk first got to know the young men through a job they did for her organization in the 7th Ward. After first getting to know the victims through the construction of bio-swales and rain gardens, Chalk bonded with them a more personal level.
“I'm heartbroken,” she said. “Because I know the camaraderie these young men had with each other. The laughter. The part that I played in their lives was being that mother hen.”
Chalk said condolences have been coming in from other people all over the country in the green infrastructure and non-profit community.
Now, as friends and supporters grieve the loss of men trying to overcome their past, detectives are investigating whether that history played a role in cutting their futures short.
The other two victims, both 20 years old, remain in the hospital in stable condition.
Ed. Note the video above is from Wednesday night before a second victim had died of wounds from the shooting.
There is video of the immediate aftermath of the shooting, but Eyewitness News is not showing it because of how graphic it is. The hectic scene that unfolds is in stark contrast to what neighbors are used to.