In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of “babies,” and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of “hundreds of armed gang members killing and raping people” inside the Dome. Other unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies “we couldn’t count.”
“The information I had at the time, I thought it was credible,” Compass said, admitting his earlier statements were false. Asked the source of the information, Compass said he didn’t remember.
Eddie Compass – New Orleans Police Superintendent
The news reports were almost overwhelming. Most of us in the northern parts of Louisiana were bracing for all the incoming violence from evacuees. Did any of that happen? Nope. Not really.
Sure – there has most likely been an increase in gang activity or crime in other cities as some of the people flushed from New Orleans were criminals or gang bangers. In January 2006, murders in Houston were up 50% compared to the previous year. According to Time.com in “Crime Returns to the Big Easy”, federal subsidies ran out, more housing became available again in New Orleans while Houston police arrested scores of Katrina evacuees. By March 2006 killings in Houston were back down to pre-Katrina levels.
It appears that much of the criminal element returned to New Orleans fairly quickly.
In 2004 the New Orleans murder rate was 56 for every 100,000. In February 2006, it returned to around 54 out of 100,000. It increased slightly to 57 per 100,000 in 2007 and jumped to 71 per 100,000 in 2008.
That’s bad when the New Orleans murder rate “holds flat” at 171 total in 2009, which is down to 52 per 100,000. It would seem with all that crime in New Orleans that in 2005 Hurricane Katrina would have been a murder buffet. Not any more than usual.
But what about all the “hundreds of armed gang members killing people” in the Dome as told by Compass? The official total was 6 bodies – 4 died of natural causes, 1 committed suicide and 1 overdosed. According to Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan, authorities had only confirmed 4 murders in New Orleans in the week after Katrina.
That’s right – only 4. That makes it a typical week in New Orleans.