Two AmeriCorps groups pulled back after volunteer’s slaying

Fatal shooting shakes AmeriCorps

The death of an 18-year-old AmeriCorps volunteer last weekend has resulted in the withdrawal of about 18 volunteers from the city as they regroup from the tragic event.

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps has withdrawn its members from the city after the fatal shooting of Joseph Massenburg, who was killed in the Leonidas neighborhood Sunday. The program had two teams of volunteers working with Green Light New Orleans and Habitat for Humanity in the city, said Samantha Warfield, a spokeswoman from AmeriCorps.

Warfield said the volunteers were brought back to the Vicksburg, Miss., training facility to allow them time to “regroup” after Massenburg’s death. The teenager was killed a few blocks from where he was living with other volunteers while walking in the neighborhood, according to New Orleans police.

Warfield said volunteers will be “debriefed” and counseled about what happened to Massenburg. She said it’s unclear whether the teams will be returned to New Orleans or will instead be rotated to another site somewhere else in the country.

“I don’t really know the time line,” she said.

Although these debriefing and counseling sessions are normal for NCCC teams, the volunteers were withdrawn specifically because of Massenburg’s death.

Although Massenburg only worked with the group at Green Light, both groups trained in Vicksburg together.

“Because they were so intertwined, it made sense to remove both teams,” Warfield said.

Massenburg was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the body near Eagle Street and Birch Street, and he died later at a hospital. Police have not released a motive or suspect in the shooting.

The teenager was from Matteson, Ill., and had only been in the city for a few weeks, Warfield said. Andre Massenburg, the victim’s father, said his son was volunteering with AmeriCorps for a year before joining the Army.

Warfield said that the withdrawal only affects those groups that were trained with Massenburg and will not have any effect on the nearly 900 other volunteers working on other projects in the city. She also said that the NCCC will send future teams into the city to do volunteer work.

Massenburg was part of a team of about a dozen 18- to 24-year-olds working with Green Light New Orleans. As part of Green Light’s sponsorship of the volunteers, it was required to provide them with housing and training on potential perils in the city.

The NCCC has been sending volunteers to New Orleans since shortly after Hurricane Katrina, and work can include assistance with disaster relief, food banks or energy efficiency projects, Warfield said.