Monday, June 19, 2006

Mayor Ray Nagin has requested National Guard troops and state police to patrol New Orleans after a violent weekend in which 5 teens were shot to death

Associated Press:

City leaders convened a special meeting to voice outrage after the killings Saturday in an area near the central business district.

"If we don't have wind knocking us down, we have shooters knocking us down, and that's unacceptable," said City Council President Oliver Thomas.

Detectives knocked on doors Sunday in a search for anyone with information on the killings of five teenagers gunned down in a blaze of semiautomatic gunfire.

Police had no new leads to the killers, said police Capt. John Bryson.

"We're begging citizens -- anyone who may have any information whatsoever to call Crimestoppers," he said.

Bryson acknowledged it would be difficult finding witnesses to the killings early Saturday.

No motive had been confirmed, but "just the sheer carnage of it, the location of it and the time that it occurred" make drugs or revenge likely candidates, Bryson said.

A semiautomatic weapon was used and "multiple, multiple rounds" were fired, authorities have said.

The dead were Reggie Dantzler, Iruan Taylor and Marquis Hunter, all 19, Arsenio Hunter, 16; and Warren Simoen, 17, all of New Orleans, John Gagliano, chief investigator for the Orleans Parish coroner, told The Times-Picayune. Gagliano did not answer calls by The Associated Press seeking additional comment Sunday.

Bryson said none of the victims had any convictions. Police could comment on whether any of them had any other police record.

All were believed to have been killed at the same time. Three were found in a sport utility vehicle rammed against a utility pole and two were on the street nearby. Police said they probably all arrived in the SUV.

Along with the city's population, murder and other crimes plummeted for the first months after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city last August. Current estimates vary but the city is believed to have less than half its pre-storm population of about 455,000.

However, crime has been creeping up since then. Although the total of 52 murders since Jan. 1 is half the number at this time last year, 35 of them have been since the start of April, more than double the 17 in the first three months.

New Orleans sees its worst violence since before Katrina

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