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Collateral damage part of having armed citizenry

By John Howell, Sr.

Publisher Emeritus

We are still waiting for authorities to sort out who shot who during a weekend shootout at a popular gun store and indoor shooting range in Metairie. Three people were killed and two wounded in the melee of gunfire that included a number of armed citizen/customers and armed citizen/employees.

At this writing I have read no reports estimating the number of shots fired, but it must have been a bunch.

Early law enforcement reports suggest that a man carrying an unholstered, loaded semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine walked into the store. Store rules there, and at any gun store/shooting range, prohibit loaded firearms except in the firing range itself.

The man apparently took exception to the employee who pointed out his infraction. An argument soon escalated to gunfire that left the man and an employee dead along with a 59-year-old grandmother who had stopped by the store to pick up a pistol she had ordered for self defense. Two others were also wounded. Their injuries are described as “non-life threatening.” The number of people who fired shots is yet to be determined.

The suspect’s family said that he was going to the range with other family members and question why he would walk into a place so popular with law enforcement officials, and so frequented by other armed people, and expect to shoot without being shot? He knew everybody in there was “strapped,” according to one relative. His mother said he was the one murdered, and by store employees.

Folks who advocate a heavily armed citizenry quickly provided the narrative that the number of victims would have been higher but for the armed citizens who intervened to stop the shooter. That may be, but at this early stage with so much confusion, it is an assumption. Another possible scenario is that some of the people struck by gunfire were collateral damage from other shooters.

Fortunately for Jefferson Parish sheriff’s investigators, the place was full of surveillance cameras that are assumed to have recorded sufficient video to allow them to sort the sequence of events. The many bullet cases collected from the store’s interior and parking lot will likely be compared the bullets that inflicted the fatal and non-fatal wounds further developing a picture of what happened.

That incident came during the same week that I had seen an interesting surveillance video posted on a Nextdoor site. A doorbell camera providing a near-panoramic view of the street it faced captured the image of three teenage boys walking along the sidewalk.

When a vehicle passes, they appear to react as if they recognized it. A few steps later, after the vehicle has disappeared from the camera’s view, the boys apparently see it stop. Two run behind a vehicle parked parallel to the street as someone from the vehicle that has now passed out of view apparently starts shooting in their direction. There was no sound.

The two men hiding behind the parked SUV pull out pistols and start firing down the street apparently toward the vehicle down the street. I say apparently because they stick their pistol-holding hands over the top of the SUV and jerk off multiple rounds in that general direction. There was no report about the bullets, incoming or outgoing, striking anyone, so I have assumed they did not, but the video confirms what I had long assumed.

With so many people so heavily armed with pistols that can be fired repeatedly at the twitch of a trigger, it’s no wonder we see so much collateral damage. Too often in this city, it’s children.

Write to John Howell at johnhowl1948@yahoo.com