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Shots Fired: Gun Crimes in Lafayette Parts 1-3 - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Shots Fired: Gun Crimes in Lafayette Parts 1-3

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Shootings from Orlando to Dallas have rocked the country this year and they’re just two of 28,000 incidents and more than 7,000 deaths this year, according to Gun Violence Archive.

KATC Investigates, along with ABC News and affiliates around the country, is shining a light on gun violence on our own community.

Here in Lafayette, the city had 20 homicides last year, 19 involving gun. It was the deadliest in the last five years.

And 2016 is on track with those numbers. So far there have been nine homicides, seven involving guns.  That is more than the total number of gun homicides in 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014.

Year

Homicides with a firearm

2011

3

2012

6

2013

6

2014

6

2015

19

2016 (as of July)

7

We started working on this before the shootings last week. We got access like never before, and our goal was to look at one week of gun crimes. We chose June 24-June 30.

In the first part of our series, we captured the Lafayette Police Department responded to the scene of a shooting on North Buchanan Street.

That Saturday night, police rushed to a man laying on the ground, in front of a car. As police approached, they could see him lying on the ground and bleeding from his legs.

Police question him and learn he was shot across the street and ran to a house for cover. The suspects – two “youngsters” – are on foot. One is wearing a red shirt.

With those few details, police put up a perimeter and search the area by flashlight.

Meanwhile, an ambulance arrived and stabilizes the victim. He was shot at least four times, mostly in the legs.

No arrests were made in the case, just like 90 percent of the shooting calls -- assault or battery with a firearm --  made to LPD this year, according to calls for service data.

The North Buchanan shooting one of at least 80 LPD investigated in the first half of the year.  That’s down from the first half of last year, when LPD responded to 96 shootings.

Part 2: 'Shots Fired' make up most gun calls, end in few arrests


All gun crime calls do not end in an injury. Lafayette Police responded to 550 calls involving gun crimes in the first half of this year. More than half, 374, were calls for shots fired, according to an analysis of LPD data.

That's an average of two calls a day for shots fired -- firearm discharges. 

In the second part of our series, we went out on patrol with Sgt. Edward Washington, a 22-year veteran of the Lafayette Police Department. 

It was a Friday night, June 24, and Washington was patrolling precinct 1, the northwestern side of Lafayette. That day, there were seven shot fired calls, higher than usual. Three, about half, were in precinct 1.

It didn't take long before the first "shots fired" call came in. 

"When I hear that call, I'm expecting the worst when I go to get out there, because I've seen the worst," Washington said. "This could be a running gun battle, this could be a robbery that went bad, a drug deal that went bad, we don't know."

Washington set out into the neighborhood, asking residents to point him toward where they heard gunshots, but nothing is found. 

There would be more calls like this, not just that Friday night, but all through the week. KATC Investigates took a snapshot of gun crimes in Lafayette by looking at the week of June 24-30. Scroll down or click here to see a map of the gun crimes

That week, police responded to 25 calls involving gun crimes. The vast majority, 22, were for "shots fired."

We were on patrol again the next night, Saturday, June 25 and into the early morning of Sunday, June 26, with Sgt. Aaron Thibodeaux, and it was just as busy. 

"I would say it's almost a nightly affair, for shots fired or some type of call involving a firearm," Thibodeaux said.

A shots fired call came in early on, and a report that two groups were shooting at each other. A truck was hit and several casing were found, but no one was arrested.

Shortly after, a bigger scene unfolded on West Foch Street. Women reported that a group of women in a car started shooting at them. 

Around the corner, at a gas station, officers found two women and a vehicle with a bullet hole in the rear windshield. 

The two groups of women tell different stories, each saying they're the victims. West Foch Street is riddled with shell casing, a total of 12 coming from three different weapons. 

At the gas station, officers find a gun in the vehicle and ticket the woman for illegal discharge. No other suspects have been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

It's a common occurrence. Of the 374 shots fired calls this year, only 13 ended in an arrest or citation. Four out of five end with officers unable to locate the incident or suspect. 
 

Part 3: Residents reflect on gun crimes, call for an end to violence

A couple days later, there are still signs of the shooting on West Foch Street - a paramedic glove strewn on the ground and police tape still up. 

Resident Angela Johnson was still shaken up. The shooting happened right outside her home.

"We were afraid. Very, very afraid," she said. "I was so horrified, and I was in the house. I went into the bathroom just to keep safe."

Johnson said she's lost friends and family to gun violence, and she lives in an area, Precinct 4, where a third of the gun calls came from this year. 

In fact, 75 percent of the gun calls this year came from two of the four precincts -- Precincts 1 and 4, which cover downtown and most of the northside, according to a KATC analysis of LPD data. 

"I stopped going to funerals because it hurts me so bad, really," Johnson said. "I've lost a lot of friends and family members to violence, yes."

This year, LPD averaged three calls for gun crimes every day in Lafayette, 21 per week.
 
Putting those numbers in perspective, that's 4.3 calls for every 1,000 residents. New Orleans, sometimes notorious for gun violence, has 4.8 gun calls for every 1,000 residents, according to City of New Orleans data and a KATC analysis.
 
Back on West Foch in Lafayette, Angela Johnson says she's lucky, but can't help reflect on the normalcy of gun crimes in her neighborhood.

"What if I, anyone, would've got shot," she said. "Then, I mean, it would've been just another funeral."

The shooting was unnerving for others on Foch, like Brian Taylor. He was in his living room when he heard shots ring out. 

The aftermath was like, "the Fourth of July, to the say the least, the Fourth of July. I heard a lot of people screaming and a lot of commotion," Taylor said.

Taylor said the key to stopping the shootings lies with young residents.  

"One, we need to enable our parents so they can have more power and control in their homes," Taylor said. "Secondly, we have to make sure that as a government, we provide enough curricular activities, throughout the summer months especially to keep our young people engaged." 

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