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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Shooting Mars Holiday


Also, recovering from damaging storms

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux is mourning the shooting that turned a neighborhood July 4 celebration into a deadly tragedy.

“We are mourning the loss of life and the disturbance of a celebratory event,” he said.

Shreveport Police reported that officers were sent shortly before midnight on July 4 to Pearl Avenue and Jones Mary Road in the MLK neighborhood on a report of shots fired. Police found more than 200 people seeking safety in the 2300 block of Jones Mabry Road after 15 minutes of reported gunfire.

Officers found three dead and seven injured on the scene. Officers discovered a body on a nearby street the next day, bringing the total fatalities to four. Police Chief Wayne Smith said that brought the city’s homicides to 39 so far this year.

“We mourn with the families of those who were killed,” Arceneaux said. “We pray for the injured and for healing in that neighborhood after the disruption of a family-oriented event.”

The mayor said a task force has been in place for several months to address such violent activity. The task force is a cooperative effort between Shreveport Police, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and other agencies.

“We are as on top of it as we can possible be,” he said. “We will seek to prosecute those responsible to the greatest extent of the law.”

Arceneaux said the entire city is grieving with the MLK community, where the tragedy occurred.

“MLK is a close-knit group,” he said of the neighborhood. “This has been difficult on them. We will use every effort we have, every resource available, to bring justice. We will find out if there are any retaliatory actions and shortcut those. That’s always a concern.”

No suspects had been identified in the days after the shooting. Arceneaux called on the community to assist law enforcement in their investigation.

“I call on any citizen who knows anything about who is involved to turn in that info to the Shreveport Police Department so we can be on top of this incident,” he said. Cleanup efforts continue

While mourning this tragedy, Arceneaux and the city continue recovery efforts after a natural disaster.

A severe thunderstorm and EF-1 tornado hit the area in the early morning hours of June 16. About 250,000 SWEPCO customers went days without power as the utility company worked to restore operations in the wake of the historic outage. The storm left widespread damage in its wake, and piles of tree limbs and other debris remain scattered across the city.

The amount of debris was more than city crews alone could handle to remove and dispose of. Within two weeks of the storm, the Arceneaux administration sent out a Request for Proposal for contractors to assist with debris removal. Arceneaux said the state will reimburse the city 75 percent of the cost for debris removal.

“We’re looking at $2 million to $2.5 million, so getting it back is important,” he said.

The contractor has been selected, he said.

Once the contract is complete, the contractor will begin picking up vegetative debris across the city.

“The contract calls for them to make two or three sweeps through the city,” he said. “They will pick up everything within 42 days. They will deliver it to a city-owned site, where we have permits to receive it. It will be processed at that site for disposition, either in the landfill or recycling uses for vegetative material.”

Arceneaux said he expects the work to start before Aug. 1 and conclude by mid-September.

“The city is 112 square miles, and damage is throughout the city,” he said. “This was not like a tornado, with bad damage in a confined area. It will take a long time. We ask citizens to be patient. We think this is the fastest way.”

Arceneaux also said that SWEPCO is “back to normal summer circumstances,” but residents could see temporary outages in the future as SWEPCO works on permanent repairs to its power grid.

“They had to do some bypasses because so many transmission lines were damaged,” he said. “SWEPCO had to do some rerouting to get all its substations online. Eventually, they will have to reroute again to restore transmission on the intended lines. So there will be some outages.”


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