NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As weekend trips for many tourists were coming to a close, news of what happened in the early hours of Sunday morning alarmed some visitors.
Hours later, it looked as if nothing happened outside the Willie’s Chicken Shack, where police said 37-year-old Louis Barnes fought a security guard who told him he needed to leave the business. Police said Barnes got hold of the guard’s gun and started to shoot. Bullets injured Barnes and the guard, but an innocent bystander, 36-year-old Julie Couvillon, was shot and killed.
“It’s devastating that someone got killed a few blocks away from here,” said Dillard University criminologist Ashraf Esmail.
Esmail said despite the heavy law enforcement presence, the number of tourists and locals alike who say they’re fearful of Bourbon Street is growing.
“Homicide happens. There’s nothing you can do in terms of law enforcement. They were right at the scene, but shooting happens in a second,” Esmail said.
He said stories like these are especially unfortunate because on the surface, it seems nothing could have been done to prevent this from happening. There was no gun to be confiscated, and police were there soon after signs of trouble.
“You can be at the wrong place, the wrong time and look what happens,” Esmail said.
Esmail said the city has touted lower violent crime, but there’s still more work to be done. The Carnival season can bring about even more dangers, including random acts of violence.
“It is concerning not that people are stopping, going out there - you have to be mindful around you because we saw a lot of arbitrary shooters last year on Mardi Gras. People going out, having fun, you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Esmail.
And in a city that promises a good time to visitors, some people say there are places they’ll just steer clear of.
I reached out to the manager of the Willie’s Chicken Shack. He told me many of their employees are shaken up by the events that night. He says they’re working to get counseling for them.