While the murder rate may be down for 2016, the number of high profile shootings is certainly on the increase and these stories are poison for a city dependent on the tourism industry.
Rolfes was in New Orleans to meet with friends and choose a wedding venue. He was excited about spending the rest of his life with fiancée Elizabeth Fried, who he met when they were students at Tulane University.
After visiting with friends at the Ms. Mae’s bar on Magazine Street, Rolfes was seen at a convenience store on South Claiborne Avenue purchasing two bottles of water. Soon thereafter, his body was discovered two blocks away, the victim of a gunshot wound.
Since his wallet was stolen, New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison said that Rolfes was the victim of an armed robbery. However, there are nagging questions about what happened to Rolfes and how he traveled from the bar such a far distance without a vehicle.
His body was found in an unsafe section of the city, one that neighbors say is made even more dangerous because of broken street lights.
This tragedy happened just several weeks after another senseless murder that made national headlines. On April 9, Will Smith, a beloved football star and member of the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl team, was killed after an apparent road rage incident.
In December, the nation witnessed a horrific video of lowlife criminal Euric Cain pointing a gun to the head of a Good Samaritan, Tulane medical student Dr. Peter Gold, who intervened to stop Cain from possibly raping a woman he was dragging down a street in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Fortunately, Gold’s life was spared as Cain’s gun, which was pointed at Gold’s head, jammed despite several attempts to fire.
Thus, in the span of just a few months, there have been three national stories about crime in New Orleans. Together, all of these stories are creating a horrible narrative about New Orleans. It tells people to be very wary of coming to this dangerous city. Tourism officials can spend millions on positive advertising, but it will be totally ineffectual if the national news about New Orleans continues to show the city as a war zone.
The blame for this problem rests squarely with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has been ineffective in his crime fighting approach. Landrieu has emphasized social programs, Midnight basketball, rehabilitation and other feel good approaches. To make matters worse, he refused to fund NOPD police recruitment classes for the first five years of his administration. The result has been a massive decline in the number of New Orleans police officers, a decreased presence in the community and an increased response time to emergency calls.
While criminals feel safer in New Orleans because there are fewer police officers in the city’s numerous hot spots for violence, law abiding people, citizens and tourists, are becoming more frightened about the never ending bloodshed.
Hopefully, this senseless murder will generate a community wide call for action to deal with the city’s out of control crime problem. The answers will not come from a politician like Mitch Landrieu, but hopefully they will come from the average citizens, who are tired of being victimized in the city they love.