By Missy Wilkinson | NOLA.com | June 1, 2023
Days after a 17-year-old boy was shot while driving on Interstate 10 near the Elysian Fields exit, New Orleans police on Thursday remained tight-lipped about the shooting and potential strategies they may be considering to end the bloodshed on highways that feel increasingly unsafe.
The teen was at least the 12th person to be shot on a New Orleans interstate this year. Two of those victims are dead.
Police said they had no updates aside from the initial information released Sunday: that the shooting took place at around 8:13 p.m. near the Elysian Fields Avenue exit; that the teen was traveling eastbound when he heard a shot and realized he was struck; and that he arrived at the hospital in a private vehicle and was in stable condition as of Sunday night.
Police did confirm they have launched Operation Golden Eagle, a partnership between the NOPD, Louisiana State Police and federal agents to increase the number of officers patrolling the city, including interstates. But they gave no specifics.
“The NOPD does not publicly discuss specific operational tactics or deployment strategies,” an unnamed public affairs officer wrote in an emailed statement.
Kate Stegall, a spokesperson for Louisiana State Police, said the agency will assist the NOPD through the summer months, but would not say how many deputies would be deployed to New Orleans or where they would be concentrated. In the past, Operation Golden Eagle, now in its third year, has deployed officers to the French Quarter and other high-crime areas.
“There is a limited number of Louisiana State Troopers coming here,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. “They are going be used very strategically.”
The NOPD declined to say whether it is considering using gunshot detection technology, which employs acoustic sensors to locate possible gunfire sounds and alert police.
Goyeneche said that technology may be one of the most efficient strategies for targeting interstate shootings, which remain a small subset of the gun violence in New Orleans this year.
“What probably is the solution (to interstate shootings) going forward is going to be technology: license plate scanners, cameras and maybe ShotSpotters,” he said.
These tools could allow police to pinpoint a suspected shooter’s vehicle, track its location and get officers in pursuit.
“That requires a level of technology and sophistication that isn’t in place right now,” Goyeneche said.
Nine of the 10 interstate shootings this year have occurred on I-10, according to data compiled by The Times-Picayune: at Elysian Fields Avenue, Bundy Road, Almonaster Avenue, Read Boulevard, Dwyer Road, Bullard Avenue, Orleans Avenue and two at the Louisa Street exit.
There was also a shooting on the I-610 at Franklin Avenue that wounded a New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board employee.
There have been at least four reported interstate shootings that damaged vehicles, including a commercial 18-wheeler loaded with 74,000 pounds of freight.
New Orleans police asked people with tips about any of the shootings to call NOPD detectives at (504) 658-6060 or report anonymously to Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans at (504) 822-1111.