- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Police were investigating six fatal shootings that occurred within 24 hours, the latest round of killings as the city struggles to rein in violence that has shadowed the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Three brothers and a friend were killed in a neighborhood not far from the French Quarter, and two persons were fatally shot in separate incidents hours later, authorities said Saturday.

Last month, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco sent the Louisiana National Guard and state police to New Orleans after five teenagers were fatally shot in a single attack.

Such sensational slayings have a crippling effect on the city’s struggle to rebuild its tourism industry and persuade evacuees to return, said City Council member James Carter, who leads the council’s committee on crime.

“The spotlight Katrina put on the city showed the real reason for these murders — abject poverty and a poor education system,” Mr. Carter said. “We have to go from looking at this as a strict law-enforcement situation and take a more holistic approach.”

There have been 78 killings in New Orleans this year, still far fewer than normal in a city accustomed to violence but enough to cause residents to fear a return to the days when New Orleans was the murder capital of the nation.

The latest shooting was in the Central City neighborhood, where most of the killings have occurred. The other recent ones, however, did not occur in the high-crime areas police have been targeting in their drive to stamp out the violence, police Superintendent Warren Riley said.

The three brothers — 16-year-old twins and a 21-year-old — were killed late Friday in the Treme neighborhood, as was their 39-year-old friend, Superintendent Riley said. All four lived nearby.

They were sitting on the porch of an abandoned house when two men walked by, then turned around and started firing, Superintendent Riley said.

The fifth shooting occurred early Saturday in the Gentilly neighborhood, an area that was severely flooded and has been slowly rebuilding. Police said they found a man dead on a street after they received reports that shots had been fired.

Responding to another call, police found a 31-year-old man lying in the middle of a Central City street with multiple gunshot wounds, officer Garry Flot said late Saturday. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Killings and other crimes had plummeted in the first months after Katrina hit New Orleans on Aug. 29 and flooded 80 percent of the city. The city’s current population is estimated to be about half the pre-storm total of 465,000.

People who “live the life” of drugs and violence were taking a toll on the rest of the residents, Superintendent Riley said.

“It is an unfortunate and very, very sad situation for those good-quality citizens who are living with the guidelines of what we all consider normalcy — the norms of society.”

Last month, five teens were killed as they sat in or stood near a sport utility vehicle. A 19-year-old man with a lengthy juvenile record was arrested in the deaths.

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