Three brothers and a friend were killed in a neighborhood not far from the French Quarter, and a fifth person was gunned down in a separate incident hours later, authorities said Saturday.
The shootings were the latest round of killings as the city struggles to rein in drug- and gang-related violence that has accompanied the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
In mid-June, Gov. Kathleen Blanco sent the Louisiana National Guard and state police to New Orleans to help fight crime there after five teenagers were shot to death in a single attack.
The latest shootings did not happen in the high-crime areas police have been targeting in their drive to stamp out the violence, police Superintendent Warren Riley said Saturday.
Detectives were uncertain about the motive and were still looking for the assailants Saturday.
The three brothers — ages 16 and 21 — were killed late Friday in the Treme neighborhood, along with their 39-year-old friend, 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 blasting, Riley said.
The fifth shooting happened early Saturday in the Gentilly neighborhood, an area that was severely flooded and which has been slowly rebuilding. Police said they found a man dead in a street after they received reports that shots had been fired.
Lower violence rates than usual
So far this year there have been 77 homicides in New Orleans, 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.
Murder 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 population is currently estimated to be about half the pre-storm total of 465,000.
People who “live the life” of drugs and violence were taking their toll on the rest of the residents, Riley acknowledged Saturday.
“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,” Riley said.
Last month, five teens were killed as they sat in or stood near a sports utility vehicle. A 19-year-old man with a lengthy juvenile record was later arrested in the deaths.