Leaders Say Crackdown on Gangs & Violence is Working in NOLA

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23-month-old Keira Holmes, 7-month-old DeShawn Kinard and 5-year-old Briana Allen were singled out today. Children caught in the crossfire and killed in New Orleans. Children who police say are all victims of gang violence.

“I didn’t even know the baby was hit until she fell right here. She was hit right here and went down right there. I say, ‘The baby hit.’ All this here looked like worms coming out,” says Briana’s aunt Patricia Allen.

It’s a painful memory Patricia Allen can’t shake. Her family was celebrating on May 29, 2012 when shots rang out. Her niece Briana, and a mother who was driving blocks away were killed. Three others including a 10-year-old were injured.

The crime sparked outrage and since that day leaders have pledged to clean up the streets, and put an end to gang violence. This evening they say they are making progress.

“In the first 11 months of this year we have had the fewest number of murders in the city of New Orleans that we have has in 40 years,” says Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro exclaims, “We have, in Orleans Parish, used the racketeering statute six times in the last three years. Six times in the last three years; a statue that has been on the books for over 30 years and never used by our predecessors!”

“We’ve taken down seven gangs with over 70 members who are facing federal or state racketeering  or indictments that carry anywhere from 50-plus to life,” explains NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

Today’s announcement comes after hosting their 5th call-in where people affiliated with gangs discuss what they know and cooperate with law enforcement. It was a first for newly appointed U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, a New Orleans native who vows to make a difference.

“I grew up and was raised in some of the toughest areas of this city. I certainly felt the direct impact of violence in my own life, in my own family. The loss of my own brother was an incident that led directly to me decision to become a federal prosecutor. It was the incident that led to me wanting to become a federal prosecutor back here in New Orleans as opposed to anywhere in the world,” says Polite.

Police believe the 3-N-G gang took the life of Keira Holmes, shooters belonging to the Hot Block ended DeShawn Kinard’s life, and the 110’ers are responsible for Briana’s death.

NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas says there are more indictments to come and believes there are about 39 gangs in New Orleans. He says about 30 individuals with ties to gang activity in the city are cooperating.