By Olivia Vidal | WVUE | July 25, 2022
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The Metropolitan Crime Commission reports the number of shootings in New Orleans is up 104 percent through seven months this year compared to all of 2019. Homicide totals are up 139 percent.
“Violent crime in this city continues to outpace the nation on a per capita basis,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the MCC. “It is really at a point that I haven’t seen in nearly 40 years that I’ve been here.”
Within a 24-hour span Sunday into Monday, nine more people became victims of gun violence. No arrests were announced in connection to any of the shootings, which Goyeneche said could lead to more retaliatory gun violence in the days and weeks ahead.
“I don’t think that’s a coincidence between the violent crime surge that we’ve seen,” he said, “because there’s about 30,000 calls for service per month that the police department is asked to respond to with the lowest police staffing that we’ve seen in at least 50 years.”
He said New Orleans averaged one homicide a day during the month of June. So far in July, that shocking pace has slowed a bit, with 11 homicides in the month, so far.
“So, it runs in cycles, and in many instances there are no rhymes or reasons to it,” he said.
More shootings means more gunshot wound patients. Hospitals and emergency room doctors are staying busy treating more than 5,000 trauma patients in New Orleans each year.
“Seventy percent is blunt trauma, so that includes car wrecks, falls, people who have injuries that are not necessarily from violent intervention,” said Dr. Alison Smith, trauma surgeon for LSU Health at University Medical Center. “As far as penetrating trauma, that’s about 30 percent, but that does include gunshots, stabbings. So when you break down those numbers, I think we had about 660 gunshot wounds in the past year.”
Dr. Smith said that number already is on the rise in 2022. She’s also seeing more young people coming in with gunshot wounds.
“We’ve had cases in the past weeks of much younger children that have been in some negligent firearm discharges,” she said. “But, in terms of pediatric trauma, unfortunately that’s been an issue and something that they’re trying to work with both here and at Children’s (Hospital).”
She said the number of patients with gunshot wounds varies daily, but the physicians, nurses and resources at the hospital are prepared to handle it.
“I know the news can be scary, when you hear what’s going on out there,” Smith said. “But in terms of what we have as a resource in this community, I think our trauma center is very well-prepared and we’re lucky that we’re one of the older trauma centers in the country and we’re prepared for this.”
She said having New Orleans EMS personnel so skilled and experienced providing blood and tourniquets to shooting victims before they arrive to the ER has helped save many lives.
And while the homicide rate has slowed, those following the data said it’s still way too high.
“Last month, there was a 53 percent increase over June of last year,” Goyeneche said. “It’s down a little bit under 50 percent (in July), but that’s still way too high. I mean, there’s no question unless something remarkable happens, we’ll be among the nation’s most deadliest cities on a per capita basis.”
According to the MCC data, there have been 276 shootings so far this year, with 130 of them fatal.