Days After City Reports Drop in Crime, New Orleans Logs 5 Murders in 14 Hours

Days after the police chief said he believed his department was bringing murders under control in New Orleans, the city logged five killings in 14 hours.

They brought the 2007 total to six, including one on New Year's Day.

Three of the latest killings were Wednesday, and two were early Thursday.

At a New Year's Day news conference, Superintendent Warren Riley said homicides in the city had spiked in April, May and July, and he believed new initiatives have brought the problem under control in recent months.

"We'd like to believe that this last quarter will be better than the two previous quarters," Riley said. Police spokeswoman Brandi Hall said Tuesday that, after 19 killings in October and another 19 in November, December's total had been 15.

The homicides Wednesday and Thursday all were shootings. In addition, police were investigating the death of a woman whose body showed trauma but whose death had not been classified.

According to police:

At 5:30 a.m. Thursday, a woman was killed on North Rampart Street. A man carrying a toddler was wounded; the toddler was unhurt.

Shortly after 12:30 a.m., a call about gunshots brought officers to a Central City alley where they found a man's body. He had been shot several times. A handgun lay nearby.

That shooting was about five blocks from the one where a 19-year-old man was shot several times about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

About 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Louisiana National Guard soldiers found a man's body in a remote grassy area in the Desire neighborhood. He had been shot in the head, police said.

And about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, an unidentified man who appeared to be in his 20s was shot in the head, in upper Mid-City.

The unclassified death was that of a woman whose body was found wrapped in a rug in the Lower Ninth Ward. Police said her body showed evidence of trauma, and was not decomposed. Neighborhood residents found the body about 11:45 a.m., police said.