The lesson Naomi Dyson took from her sister’s death was this: Don’t run; drop. In the fifth part of a series on homicide in New Orleans, the Times-Picayune quotes Dyson as saying that in the neighborhood where her family grew up, “they shoot all the time, so we weren’t going to let that stop us from going outside,” she said. Gladys Dyson, 18, was walking with a friend on the night of May 28 when she was struck by a stray bullet as men in two cars roaring up the street fired at one another. “She was running,” recalled Naomi Dyson, 20. “If she had gotten down, she would have been OK . . . Now if somebody’s shooting, I just get down on the ground.”
As homicide in New Orleans climbs to totals unseen in nearly a decade, many victims are people caught up in the drug trade and the turf wars and crimes of vengeance that it creates. Some took a wrong step in front of a bullet meant for someone else, forgot to lock a door, or opened one to the wrong person.
No more than 15 percent of the homicides claim truly innocent victims, but these tragedies have a disproportionate effect on community morale. While news of any killing raises fears, nothing so threatens a neighborhood’s sense of security than the slaughter of someone seemingly on the right side of the law.