Weekend violence claims lives in Orleans, Jefferson

Advocate staff photo by ALLEN POWELL II -- Mike Stern stands on Castiglione Street in New Orleans next to mural that was drawn on the pavement where his brother died. Stern describes his brother as the patriarch of their family who tried to take care of anyone who needed his help.
Advocate staff photo by ALLEN POWELL II -- Mike Stern stands on Castiglione Street in New Orleans next to mural that was drawn on the pavement where his brother died. Stern describes his brother as the patriarch of their family who tried to take care of anyone who needed his help.

Homicides, shootings top misery

A wave of violence swept through New Orleans and Jefferson Parish this weekend, leaving three people dead, several others wounded and the families of the slain struggling to comprehend what happened.

The violence left Isaac Stern, 47: Carl May, 24: and Doretha Richardson, 81, dead in separate incidents. Police have not yet announced any suspects or motives in the killings.

New Orleans police are investigating two of the homicides and five nonfatal shootings during the weekend. Police also handled a hostage incident involving a woman with a history of mental illness and two rapes.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating one homicide and two nonfatal shootings. Deputies also handled a rape and home invasion.

The crime that drew the most attention was the killing Friday night of Richardson on Fifth Street in Bridge City. The Sheriff’s Office reported that the grandmother was killed while watching a grandchild, and her body was found lying in the kitchen. Gunmen sprayed her small, wooden home with bullets, and the markers investigators use to document entry points looked like white polka dots on the building’s wall on Monday.

Richardson’s son was outside talking to a family friend but declined to discuss her death, citing the rawness of his emotions. Authorities have said they believe the shooting might be linked to one of Richardson’s relatives and are considering suspects, but no other information was immediately available.

Richardson’s death came just a few days after the Sheriff’s Office investigated the killing of Desmond Brown, 3, in Marrero, and booked the boyfriend of the child’s mother with murder. A small memorial had been placed outside of the boy’s home on Rue Racine Drive in Marrero, and his family has started a memorial fund at Capital One bank to help pay for the funeral expenses.

In both New Orleans homicides, relatives said the fatal shootings could not be explained, because neither of the dead men was living a life that involved violence.

Police found Isaac Stern dead just a few feet from his home on Castiglione Street on Friday night with multiple gunshot wounds to the body. Mike Stern, the victim’s brother, said that the killing of his brother has shocked his entire family.

He said the victim was shot after apparently arguing with some men who were walking through the area. A neighbor said that he left the victim outside for a few minutes while he went to retrieve a cigarette but then heard shouting. A few seconds later gunshots rang out, and the father of four was dead. Stern said he’s really not sure what happened to his brother, who had recently started going to church.

“I’m still getting information on that,” he said. “I’m hearing a lot of different stories.”

He called his older brother the patriarch of their family, particularly after their mother and father split up when they were younger. Stern said his brother always protected him and always provided for him whenever he was in a jam. A retired printer, Stern was willing to help anyone and never sought anything in return, his brother said.

“Everybody in the neighborhood loved him,” said the younger Stern, as he went through the victim’s belongings on Monday. “If I picked up the phone and I needed it, he would have been there. … He always said, ‘No matter what, family must stick together.’”

A makeshift memorial had been placed in front of the victim’s door, and near the street where his body was found. Stern said telephone calls have been pouring in from people who heard about his brother’s death and just can’t believe it.

“I’ve got people I haven’t spoken to in years calling me because he wasn’t that kind of person,” Stern said.

That same sense of disbelief was on Carl Batiste’s face as he discussed the death of his son. Carl May was found dead Sunday night on South Galvez Street with multiple gunshot wounds to the body.

Batiste said his son wasn’t a troublemaker, didn’t sell drugs and generally kept to himself. He enjoyed music and video games, but his real passion was talking about his plan to move to the Pacific Northwest and start his life over. Batiste said that May believed that if he lived in Seattle, things would be better, and he was saving money from the job he had cutting grass to figure out a way to get there.

“He didn’t like New Orleans anymore. He was telling me it’s too much killing down here,” Batiste said. “He was always talking about Seattle.”

May didn’t have any children and didn’t have any enemies that his father knew about. Batiste broke down crying talking about his son’s death, saying he just wants answers about why he had to die.

“Somebody knows something. … I don’t know. That’s the killing part, I don’t know why,” Batiste exclaimed sitting in his Treme home. “That was my only son.”