NEW ORLEANS —

It was about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday when people who live near Birch and Monroe streets heard gunshots.

“I heard, like, 10 or 12,” one neighbor said.

After the bullets stopped flying, a 59-year-old man lay dead.

Police on Thursday said he was an innocent victim, caught in the crossfire between two unknown men.

Denise Pilar lives near where the shooting happened. She said it’s a spot where neighbors regularly gather for a friendly cookout.

“It's really good meals, and we all pull up and get our burgers and steaks and grilled oysters and it's just beautiful,” she said Thursday night.

And this week was no different until the gunfire began.

“It sounded like suddenly a war had descended for a moment,” Pilar said.

Most weeks, Pilar said, she would’ve been outside with her friends. This week she stayed in.

She said she was glad no one else was hurt, but she was heartbroken for the man who lost his life.

Surveillance video Pilar saw showed two men run around the corner and open fire, spraying the area and sending people scrambling.

“It could've been any of us … it could've been any of the people sitting here having a cigarette outside,” Pilar said. “An innocent person who was here got hit, because these kids decided they needed to work out their business and their problems with bullets.”

The Orleans Parish coroner has not yet released the victim’s name, pending notification of family.

One neighbor, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said it’s always had a gun-violence problem. And it’s getting to the point where she’s ready to leave.

“It has so many things happen back here,” said the neighbor who did not want to give her name. “It’s been the final straw for me.”

But for Pilar, those who live in the area are stronger than the problems the area faces.

“It had nothing to do with the beauty we have on this block,” she said. “We have a wonderful block here.”

Anyone with information about this killing is asked to call NOPD homicide Detective Mike Poluikis at (504) 658-5300 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.