Over just a couple of days, no less than eight shootings in Baton Rouge left four people killed and five wounded.
And it’s not even summer yet.
”I stand firm that this senseless violence is unacceptable and has no place in our community,” East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said.
However firmly the mayor believes that, the realities of such a series of targeted homicides are so difficult that it is impossible to wish them away with good intentions or even Broome’s well-justified outrage.
The map showed the killings and almost-killings across the entirety of the city, north and south.
And they are typically not robberies or accidents: Police spokesperson L’Jean McKneely said investigators believe the shootings over weekend nights, Saturday to Monday, are not related but were all targeted on particular victims.
Memorial Day is the traditional beginning of summer, but why wait? Three more people were shot near North Acadian Thruway on Tuesday night.
The good news, we guess, is that statistically Baton Rouge is becoming a safer place, or at least the flurries of gunfire — pictures of car doors riddled with bullets are now commonplace — are not claiming as many lives. Homicides are down from the 2021 peak.
But the summer is always a time of concern, as people are out more and somehow the heat of south Louisiana makes tempers flare. The weekend’s bloodshed happened as temperatures crept into the mid-90s across southern Louisiana.
Last year, however, East Baton Rouge Parish actually saw a dip in homicides during its warmest months, something the mayor credited to the city’s Summer of Hope initiative, which launched in 2022 with the aim of mitigating violence by targeting poverty, mental illness and community disengagement among neighbors.
Broome said this year’s Summer of Hope programs will include door-to-door canvassing, dialogues on public safety, professional development opportunities and fun events for neighborhoods most impacted by crime — particularly the Bottoms, Tigerland and Brookstown, all of which saw concentrated levels of violence last year.
Nothing at all wrong with that, as we’ve said before. If police and deputies are out in the community and talking to neighbors, particularly engaging with youngsters and teens, maybe the cycle of summer slayings will diminish further.
Clearly, though, shootings that are targeted at victims are often associated not just with trivial grudges — although that sometimes leads to gunfire — but criminal activity from drug trading or gangs.
Detectives try to trace down the leads on those incidents, and in Baton Rouge, a close working relationship among local, state and federal agencies means resources can be found to work those cases.
The Summer of Hope activities might not directly affect the course of those investigations, but we hope that community engagement will help law enforcement get the tips they need to get bad actors off of our unfortunately mean streets.
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