By Claire Byun
After last week’s deadly shooting at an “unsafe” event space on Tulane Avenue, Mid-City residents are looking for alternative avenues to report unruly businesses or unsafe gatherings. Several city agencies are hoping to help with that kind of reporting.
The New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits, which oversees the safety, coding and permitting of businesses, wants residents to alert them to any unsafe facilities in their neighborhoods. Zach Smith, chief building official with the Department of Safety and Permits, told Mid-City Neighborhood Organization members that any building that seems to go against code should be reported.
“If you see a building that you think is being used unsafely – not necessarily illegally and not with a crowd you think is doing something illegal – you can send me and email,” Smith said.
Safety and Permits shut down the Mid-City Event Center just three days after last week’s shooting that left three people dead. Smith said the venue’s power was cut after officials found “major electrical violations” within the facility. The building was not shut down because of the shooting, Smith repeatedly said.
“We make decisions based on the safety of occupants in a specific facility,” he said.
Police responded to the 3700 block of Tulane Avenue after officers heard gunshots from a social gathering in the area around 12:40 a.m. on June 3, police said. Police found five total victims suffering gunshot wounds; two were taken to the hospital by EMS, while the third was taken by a private vehicle. Two men were pronounced dead on scene by EMS, police said.
The third victim died in the hospital. First responders found victims on Tulane Avenue as well as on nearby South Telemachus and Banks streets, police said.
NOPD First District officials have placed patrols around the Tulane Avenue area since October, when three people were fatally shot and two others wounded. The Mid-City Security District has also posted an officer in the area 24/7, but commission chair Jim Olsen said that patrol may not continue due to limited resources.
“We’re not trying to ignore anyone, we’re just trying to keep an eye on what’s happening on the rest of the neighborhood,” Olsen said.
Violent persons crime, rather than property crime, is the focus of First District officers for now, Lt. Octavio Baldassaro told MCNO members. Baldassaro said officials are working to deter violent crime around the district – especially around the Tulane Banks neighborhood. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, speaking to First District officers last week, said the district is doing the best it can with what it has, and is working to find ways to “branch out” into other solutions.
City Councilmember Susan Guidry, speaking to MCNO Monday, said she’s spoken with business owners and residents around Tulane for months regarding the violence. Her staff is pursuing ways to stem the crime, either through NOPD or legal avenues, Guidry said.
“It just tore me apart when I woke up to this having happened the other weekend,” Guidry said.
To see what businesses in your neighborhood are permitted through the city or to review city codes, visit the city’s OneStop App. To report an unsafe facility, contact the Department of Safety and Permits by calling 658-7100 or through their website.