There is a possibility that a string of armed robberies turned into sexual assaults in a number of New Orleans neighborhoods could be related, according to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).
During a briefing with the Times Picayune and New Orleans Advocate, Sgt. Gary Lacabe with the NOPD 5th District said that it is possible for one gunman to be responsible for the latest 9th Ward and St. Roch armed robberies and sexual assaults.
During two incidents, a masked gunman walked up to a woman, robbed her at gunpoint and then sexually assaulted her. But, that’s not all.
An NOPD spokesman told NOLA.com and New Orleans Advocate reporters that as many as five recent sexual assaults could all be related. These other sexual assaults include attempted rape and rape in the Holy Cross and Bayou St. John neighborhoods.
The descriptions given to the New Orleans Advocate of the sexual assaults, like this one below, are disturbing.
One of the victims, a 32-year-old woman, said she biked home with two male friends early Saturday morning and was in her yard on France Street when, seemingly out of nowhere, the masked man approached her. He held a gun to her head, called her a “bitch” — a word he used repeatedly — and began dragging her by her hair, she said.
The gunman robbed the woman and her two friends, throwing the woman on the ground and ordering her friends to place their hands on their heads and face away from him. He placed a gun to the head of one of the friends and demanded the PIN for his bank card, saying, “I’m not f***ing with you.”
“I don’t know why, but I kept looking him in the eye because he kept telling me not to look at him,” the woman said. “He wasn’t loud but very assertive.”
At 3:01 a.m., the woman tried to call 911 from her cellphone, but it apparently did not go through. She said the man forced her at gunpoint to perform oral sex on him.
Another incident involved a woman about to go to sleep in her home, when suddenly she saw a man standing in her bedroom and pointing a gun at her.
“I didn’t hear a thing,” the woman said. “He had to open two doors and come through three rooms, and he had to climb over a bunch of stuff to get through the window. He was really, really sneaky. It’s terrifying because, I don’t know if he’s ever been in my house before, but it certainly seemed that way.”
The gunman, wearing a bandana over his face, demanded the woman’s money and that of her roommate, who was not home at the time, and sexually assaulted her. As in the France Street case, he repeatedly called the woman a “bitch” and bound her hands at one point.
“He kept saying he was going to wait until my roommate came home,” she said. “I don’t know if he got spooked or gave up because she didn’t show.”
Finally, she said, the man ran off, saying, “I’m going to spare you.”
“I firmly believe he cased me or my house,” she added.
Even with similar reports in both cases, the NOPD says they cannot entirely confirm that the armed robberies turned sexual assaults are from the same gunman.