FBI announced $20,000 reward for information in case of wounded officer

The FBI on Sunday announced it is offering a $20,000 reward to anyone who has information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the man responsible for shooting a New Orleans police officer late last month.

The FBI’s money coupled with Crime Stoppers’ reward of $10,000 brings the total reward to $30,000.

Officer John Passaro, 41, was shot in the morning of Feb. 23 while responding to a report of an armed robbery at a Dollar General in the 1100 block of Poland Avenue in Bywater.

Police said Passaro was ambushed by a gunman who was holding several customers and employees of the business in a back office.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas on Sunday said Passaro has a “very, very long way to go” in terms of his recovery. Serpas declined to provide additional details about Passaro’s condition, citing medical privacy concerns.

Michael Anderson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Orleans Division, said that even though the agency is facing budget cuts and furloughs, the reward is necessary support for the NOPD and Passaro.

“Local, state and federal law enforcement cannot keep this community safe from violent crime if our officers are not fully supported and protected when them put themselves in harms ways every day,” Anderson said.

Darlene Cusanza, executive director of Crimestoppers, said her agency has received some tips in the case but investigators continue to seek more.

Serpas asked business owners in the New Orleans area to review the gunman’s description and think about anyone they might have recently laid off since the gunman told those in the store that he’d recently lost his job and did not want to hurt them.

A person of interest in the case is described as a black man between 29 and 31 years old, about 5 feet, 9 inches tall with a slim build and brown complexion, and an inch-wide “chin-strap” beard. During the incident, he wore a blue jacket, blue jeans and a bandanna over his face with sunglasses.

“This is another case where we know more about him than he thinks we know,” Serpas said of the gunman. “We know a lot, but we need more help.”

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers at (504) 822-1111.