NEW ORLEANS — As chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, New Orleans Councilman Oliver Thomas has been outspoken against crime in the city. Now it's touched his family.
“One of the first things we have to do is get the people off the street that are targeting us, period, period,” Councilman Oliver Thomas of District E said.
Tuesday afternoon, four young men jumped out of a car in the 7100 block of Chef Highway, and fired more than 50 bullets into a car with two young women inside.
One was killed, the other severely hurt.
Wednesday, Thomas revealed the violence hit close to home.
The young injured woman is his niece.
His reaction was emotional and straightforward.
Thomas' niece is in her 20s. She has a toddler. She was shot in the head and face. Her medical prognosis, at this time, is unknown.
Her brother was killed in street violence. Now the family is dealing with the pain so many New Orleanians know all too well.
Here is the councilman, in his own words.
“I babysat stayed at my house watched her grow. My last words to her were stay safe,” Thomas said.
“From everything we know, and we've heard, it was targeted it was a hit. It wasn't her car, but they still targeted her. It's a good thing the kid wasn't with her because probably would have been in the car with her."
"This isn't the first young woman in the last year or so who's been shot in the boyfriend, or family member's car."
"The criminal element in this town thinks they own it right now. So we've got to be careful every step of the way, planning our day. All they have to do is say they're going to get together and go kill somebody, carjack somebody, rob somebody, shoot somebody with no thought, but we have to think and plan out our day. Thieves have more liberty and freedom than we do. That's crazy," Thomas said.
"Have we gotten to the point in society where law-abiding citizens have no say? Our liberties are secondary. You've got people saying, ‘Oh, he's only killed two people, so maybe he won't shoot the third one. Everybody on the street that wants to rob us, carjack us, shoot us, and kill us, needs to be put somewhere where they're not hurting us. Everybody. Period."
"And we can help them where they are. If we can't create an energy in this town that says ‘New Orleans matters’ that we're worth it, then why are we surprised?”
Thomas said he is tired of the pettiness and political bloodshed. He said elected officials need to work together to stop the street bloodshed and work towards a common goal which is 'our lives.'
He is encouraged by the mayor's new plan and encouraged that parts of the business community are involved.