WWLTV is reporting that a Housing Authority of New Orleans Officer was found dead inside his police cruiser early Sunday morning.
Although the victim has not been identified, Chief of Police Robert Anderson told NOLA.com that the officer had been shot while working security detail at the Guste Homes public housing complex’s construction site, which will feature new mixed-income housing. Anderson stated that the officer had only been with the department for a little over two years.
“It is truly a sad day for our department,” Anderson said. “Such a tragic loss. We have never had an on-duty death in the department’s history. We know the men and women of the NOPD will work to bring this to a conclusion.”
The officer was found in his patrol car on the corner of Erato and Freret Streets in Central City. The vehicle had struck a curb. The police believe that he may have been shot in the 2300 block of Freret prior to reaching the intersection.
While the events of the shooting are unclear, AI.com noted that a pending autopsy may shed light on the events that led up to this tragic death. There were few nearby residents to interview at the construction site, but police are canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses and asking that anyone who has details on the shooting come forward.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison stated that it was too early to speculate on what had happened, and whether the officer had been personally targeted. Harrison said that the department is mourning the loss of a fellow officer.
“He’s a young officer who was taken away too soon,” the superintendent said. “It is a tough day. It is a hard thing to watch one of your colleagues lose their life in the line of duty.”
While the officer was found around 7:10 a.m., the police will not know the time of death until the New Orleans coroner performs the autopsy.
Beyond the police force, the city of New Orleans is mourning the young officer’s death. Mayor Mitch Landrieu released a statement of support to the officer, which read, in part:
“NOPD and HANO will work very closely to identify and arrest those responsible for this heinous assault. NOPD and HANO are part of the same close-knit law enforcement family that puts their lives on the line to protect and serve the people of New Orleans. Never are we more aware of the risk they face every day than we are on terrible days like this.”