NEW ORLEANS – A 19-year-old man with a lengthy juvenile record was arrested in the shooting deaths of five teenagers last month, a crime that brought National Guard convoys rumbling back into town and put a spotlight on increasing violence in the city.
Michael Anderson, of New Orleans, was booked Thursday on five counts of first-degree murder, city Police Chief Warren Riley said at a news conference. He was believed to be the lone gunman and has a juvenile criminal record that includes nine felony arrests, Riley said.
The five teens were killed before dawn on June 17 as they sat in or stood near a sports utility vehicle. All five were trapped in a hail of gunfire and died at the scene.
Officials have said they believe the shootings were drug-related or some kind of retaliation attack.
The deaths brought national attention to the city's spike in crime since Hurricane Katrina scattered its residents Aug. 29.
Murder and other crimes had plummeted for the first months after Katrina hit and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans.
But since the start of April, the city has had 35 murders, even though its population is estimated to be about half of the pre-storm total.
After the five teens were gunned down and another man was fatally stabbed the following day, Mayor Ray Nagin called for National Guard troops and state police officers to help patrol the city.
Guard members arrived June 20 and have been patrolling areas of the city that are still largely deserted. Officials said their presence has helped free up New Orleans police to make more arrests.