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‘It was terrifying’: Video captures apparent gun battle in New Orleans, sending people fleeing

Meridian WTOK-TV logo Meridian WTOK-TV 5/14/2022 David Jones
Shootout near McDonough © Provided by Meridian WTOK-TV Shootout near McDonough

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An apparent late night shootout in one New Orleans neighborhood sent people nearby scrambling for cover, with residents describing a scene in which they said more than 70 “assault rifle” shots were fired.

It happened Wednesday night, in the same neighborhood in which three people were shot and killed in March. New Orleans Police later arrested 18-year-old Tyrone Steele for the killings.

The video shows the shooting, which in total lasted around 25 seconds. Neighbors describe a chaotic scene throughout the duration of the apparent gun battle.

“You usually hear a couple gunshots here and there... no. It didn’t stop,” said one neighbor, whose identity FOX 8 has concealed. “It was terrifying. When there’s 70 plus assault rifle shots that ring out down my block, that causes my neighbors to have to jump on their kids and to wonder what’s going on, I don’t understand at what point something is going to change.”

‘It was terrifying’: Video captures apparent gun battle in New Orleans, sending people fleeing
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The neighbor, who’s lived in the area for nearly five years, said the violence has increasingly become worse, causing her and her neighbors to live in fear.

“How many times do we have to call EMS for our neighbors?” she asked. “We have an extremely close knit group of neighbors. We speak all the time, we have each other’s backs, and we’re doing what we can. We’re increasing lighting where we can. We got a crime camera put in the neighborhood.”

She said the violence stems from people hanging out on the block, around a nearby apartment complex between Encampment and Davey Street.

The area is bordered by Bayou St. John to the west, Harrison Avenue to the north and McDonough 35 High School to the south.

“I love my home, but I don’t love what we’re dealing with right now,” she said. “I’ve seen the violence in my neighborhood increase steadily and much more rapidly since the triple murder.”

FOX 8 contacted the landlord who owns the complex, Lloyd Villavaso. He said, next week, cameras are going up on all six buildings in the complex, and floodlights are being installed for the parking lots.

Villavaso said, while tenants aren’t allowed to have guests in their apartment, it’s up to the neighbors to call police when they see people hanging out who don’t belong there.

“The tenants are not going to approach those people, and I can’t blame them,” Villavaso said. “But what I’ve asked them to do is call the police when they see them, and if the police presence is there, maybe they’ll just stop coming around there.”

He said it’s not his tenants who are bringing the trouble into the neighborhood.

“It’s not the tenants letting people, people just come on the property,” he said. “I mean, these people are not going to approach those people, that’s why I’ve asked them to call the police on these people, and have the police come and remove them.”

Councilman Eugene Green, who represents this district, said blight and crime are two issues raised consistently by people who live in the area.

“It’s a shame that the residents of this area, the apartment complex and also the people who live nearby, have to suffer through this sort of activity,” Green said. “There’s no excuses with regard to what we saw. It’s an irresponsible and ‘hooliganistic’ act, to be very honest with you, and we’re going to do something about it.”

Green said his office will be pushing for the demolition of another nearby vacant property, between Encampment and Cadillac Streets. The property is not owned by Villavaso, but is so run down and neglected that he believes it is attracting the ‘wrong element.’

Villavaso said he’s supportive of the demolition of that property.

“They shouldn’t have to live in conditions where they fear the sort of activity that you saw on that video,” Green said.

The neighbor said she does not understand why action hasn’t been taken against the tenants who she believes are letting the people hang around outside.

“I don’t have a problem with people that rent, I don’t have a problem with section 8. What I have a problem with is a landlord that doesn’t maintain their property, and that allows tenants, certain tenants, to break the rules that are associated with that,” she said. “If you’re not going to vet your tenants, and you’re going to continue to let the same element or the same tenants allow a certain element into that area, that puts us all in danger. I take issue with it.”

Villavaso said he doesn’t believe it’s his tenants that are bringing the problems into the neighborhood.

“I mean these people live there, it’s hard to tell these people you can’t have a guest,” he said. “But from talking to my manager whose there on a constant basis, it’s not people they’re inviting, it’s people just coming to hang out.”

NOPD says there were two victims in Wednesday night’s shooting who both reported injuries. No fatalities were reported.

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