‘He was a product of his environment’: Brother of Claiborne Ave. shooting target speaks out

NEW ORLEANS -- "He’s being characterized as a gang member, a killer. I feel like it’s a slap in the face … like he got what he deserved."

The brother of the man who was targeted in a shooting on Claiborne Avenue that left three people dead and seven others injured is speaking out against the way his brother has been characterized by police and the media.

NOPD has said that 28-year-old Jeremiah Lee was the intended target when two gunmen opened fire into a crowd of people standing outside a daiquiri shop on Claiborne Avenue Saturday night. Lee was one of three people shot and killed at the scene, while seven others were shot and treated at local hospitals. The other two people who died were 38-year-old Kurshaw Jackson and 27-year-old Taiesha Watkins.

Police said Lee was being chased by the gunmen and ran into the crowd to get away from them. The gunmen continued to shoot into the crowd and wreaked havoc on the innocent bystanders who were out on a steamy Saturday night.

NOPD Chief Michael Harrison has said the shooting was gang-related, and multiple news outlets have since reported on Lee's criminal past.

Speaking at a vigil Tuesday evening in the same parking lot where 10 people were shot days earlier, Jamil Hill, Lee's brother, said "I'm frustrated with the press that my brother is getting."

"He was a product of his environment," Hill lamented. "We can't control what neighborhood we grew up in. We can't control any of that. I think they're focusing too much on the victims and not the actual problem, which is crime in New Orleans."

Hill said his brother worked at Trenasse restaurant downtown and was going to the shopping center on Claiborne that night to buy chicken from "the neighborhood spot."

"They're looking at his record and holding convictions from four or five years ago," Hill said. "There’s nothing for these kids to do … but look up to the neighborhood drug dealers. His mother is very affected by the way he’s being characterized."

The gunmen responsible for the major shooting are still at large. There's a $25,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111 or toll-free at 1-877-903-STOP.