A sense of unease hung in the air Monday in the Fair Grounds neighborhood, a day after a man was shot during a botched armed robbery attempt as he walked back to a friend’s home from a neighborhood grocery store.
At about 6:25 p.m. Sunday, a man on a white bicycle rode up to the 36-year-old victim in the 3000 block of Ponce De Leon Street and demanded his wallet, several neighbors and a friend said.
Whether the victim refused or something else happened is unknown. But within moments, the man on the bicycle opened fire, striking the victim in the chest and leg, police said.
The gunman, who has dreadlocks and wore a black shirt and black shorts, pedaled away southbound on Ponce De Leon and disappeared.
The victim was still in the intensive care unit at Interim LSU Public Hospital on Monday. While police said he was rushed there in critical condition, a friend said the wounds did not appear to be life-threatening.
“It sounds like it might be a long recovery because of the stomach wound, but he’s doing well,” said the friend, who asked not to be identified. “It’s not life or death at this point.”
The victim, a plumber’s assistant from Gentilly, had been visiting that friend to watch the New Orleans Saints play the Arizona Cardinals.
A little while after the game ended, the victim took a stroll to the nearby Canseco’s Market at Esplanade Avenue and Ponce De Leon.
The victim encountered his would-be robber as he walked back to his friend’s home while he carried a case of beer.
His friend became concerned when the victim did not return.
Meanwhile, word of the shooting spread quickly among neighbors who live near the scene.
Those who knew the victim realized who it was when they saw his cap and the beer on the ground, near where he lay.
“This is a neighborhood where this sort of thing does not happen. I think the whole neighborhood is really upset,” the victim’s friend said. “It was pretty devastating. I don’t know if I’ll fully process this.”
Some neighbors on Monday appeared to go about their lives as usual, with a number of people jogging, walking dogs or taking their children for walks in a stroller.
Sue Gaden, who lives a block from where the shooting happened, said there was an expected mix of emotions about what happened.
There was little panic or fear, she said, but some people were concerned about the headline-grabbing crime in a neighborhood that usually is in the news only when it hosts the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
“You have to look over your shoulder” when crimes such as a botched robbery happen, she said.
Some were frustrated that the city’s unyielding cycle of violent crime had hit their neighborhood.
“Nowhere is safe. ... For somebody to get shot in the neighborhood is unheard of,” said Joseph Griffin, a cook at Liuzza’s by the Track. “When you leave the house in the morning, you have to have the mind-set anything can happen.”
Police on Monday released a brief surveillance video of a man walking down a street, wearing a black shirt and tan shorts and pushing a bicycle through the area just after the shooting. They said he was a person of interest in the case but not a suspect.
Anyone with information about the identity of the man in the video is asked to contact Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. First District Detective Shawn Jenkins is in charge of the investigation.
Dan Lawton contributed to this report.
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