New Orleans police shot and killed at least five people Sunday after gunmen opened fire on a group of contractors travelling across a bridge on their way to make repairs.
Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley said police shot at eight people, killing five or six.
John Hall of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said fourteen contractors were travelling across a bridge that spans a canal connecting Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, under police escort, when they came under fire. The contractors were on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain to plug a breech in the canal.
None of the contractors were killed.
For days now, all we've heard from the New Orleans police are stories of cowardice or corruption. These stories have sullied the reputation of the whole force, good and bad alike; in so doing, they've hampered the police's ability to enforce the law and carry out rescues.
How many locals, having heard reports through the grapevine of police running from the city or joining the looters, might have feared that the cops coming to their rescue might not in fact be coming to loot them?
Add that on top of the usual suspicion with which New Orleans' poorer black residents regard the police, and it's more wonder that there is anything resembling an effective force carrying out some semblance of its duty.
Had New Orleans police adopted a shoot-to-kill policy towards looters, rapists and other thugs at the start, the thugs would have gotten the hint, cowards that they are.