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NEW ORLEANS — Wednesday night, a husband and wife were shot in Mid-City while confronting a car burglar.
The woman, identified as 63-year-old Zelda Townsend, died from her injuries. Her husband was shot in the arm.
It happened at about 10:00 in the 2700 block of Cleveland Avenue.
Police say a group of young people drove a car into the area and one of them broke into the couple’s car, triggering the alarm. Police say the couple lives on the street and responded to the alarm, confronting the suspected burglar who police describe as a 17-year-old who was arrested previously for car burglary about a month ago.
Police say that someone in the getaway car told the teen to shoot the couple. The husband also brought a gun, and according to police, the pair exchanged gunfire.
The woman was hit in the head and died from her injuries. The husband was treated at University Medical Center for the gunshot wound to his arm.
Later in the evening, according to police, the teenager showed up at another hospital with a graze wound from a bullet. He was also taken to UMC where he was treated, released, and then booked with a second degree murder charge.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson are expressing their anger and frustration with the rising number of crimes being committed by juveniles in the city, especially car theft and car burglary. They say that the crimes often lead to more severe offenses, citing the prior night’s homicide.
Ferguson says the getaway car was later recovered. He says it was stolen. Police are also looking for the accused accomplices who were inside the car, but Ferguson did not have a description or know how many suspects the department was looking to find.
Cantrell says the city is preparing for the summer months and hoping to have the rising juvenile crime problem contained. She says the city has at least 100 jobs that will be available for young people. Cantrell also says the city will be rolling out its summer curfew. Cantrell did not rule out the possibility of beginning those curfew hours a couple of weeks before the planned June 1 start date.
The mayor and chief are also urging more parents to take responsibility for their children. Cantrell says the city could make a stronger effort to hold parents accountable for their children when they skip school or are out past curfew hours.
Finally, Cantrell and Ferguson are telling people to call 911 when they see a crime being committed rather than take matters into their own hands. They say that too often, confrontations with suspects can leave the victims of crime seriously hurt or even dead.