NEW ORLEANS – Two Louisiana National Guard soldiers shot at a man suspected of wielding a weapon Monday, the first time any guard member patrolling the city has opened fire, officials said.
The shooting occurred when the man, whom police didn't identify, refused an order to drop an object in his hand as he approached the soldiers.
The man was wounded in the upper torso near his back, and his injury was not considered life threatening, police said.
In June, 300 National Guard members were sent to the city to patrol areas largely abandoned since Hurricane Katrina, said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a Louisiana National Guard spokesman.
Sgt.Robert Lawrence, 21, an Iraq war veteran, and his patrol partner, Pfc. James Neely, were called over by people who pointed out a vehicle, saying its driver "was involved either in a dispute or a hit-and-run," he said.
The man's driving was erratic, so the soldiers pulled him over and ordered him out, Schneider said.
"When the suspect got out of the vehicle, he had something in his hand that our soldiers perceived to be a weapon," Schneider said. "So our soldiers took defensive positions, and ordered him to stop and drop what he had. He continued on."
Schneider said the soldiers fired twice; a shot fired by Lawrence hit the man.
Schneider said the object the man carried was possibly a cell phone.
Nobody was arrested Monday but the investigation was incomplete, police said.
The shooting occurred on a block where most houses had been or were being repaired, although some still had boarded or shuttered windows.