‘She didn’t get to fulfill her purpose,’ aunt says of 23-year-old woman killed in New Orleans

Nia Lassai dreamt of becoming a rapper, her aunt Keisha Dominique said, explaining that her niece’s poetic lyrics were a way to tell her story that included more challenges than any 23-year-old’s life should.

On the day Nia Lassai was born, her biological father was fatally shot in the Calliope Projects where Lassai grew up until Hurricane Katrina. Her mother Kimberly had her first baby when she was 15 and raised six children while trying to hold a job, needing food stamps to support her family, Dominique said. Lassai’s stepfather was shot and killed, too, in 2013. In school, Lassai got in trouble for fighting with the kids who bullied her for her dark skin and hair, Dominique said, until she dropped out around 8th grade.

On Tuesday (June 4), the 23-year-old was fatally shot, two streets from her mother’s New Orleans East home.

‘That’s history right there. It’s a real loss’: 2-alarm fire destroys Black Pearl Restaurant in Treme

A two-alarm fire ravaged a building that houses Black Pearl Restaurant in Treme Wednesday afternoon (May 8). A man jumped from the second-floor balcony to escape the fire, officials said. No injuries were reported.

“That’s history right there. It’s a real loss,” Daphne Hargett said of her 85-year-old father’s restaurant known as “The Greasy Spoon.” Many customers came to the restaurant for its “real soul food,” including chitlins, beans, greens and black-eyed peas, she said.

Black Pearl Restaurant served food to “big and little” customers for years, Daphne Hargett said, explaining that her father rarely turned customers away.

“You have three quarters, no quarters, and he’s going to give them a bag of chicken and cornbread,” she said of her father. “He loved feeding people. That was his life.”

17-year-old girl fatally shot in Upper 9th Ward remembered as outgoing, ‘life of the party’

Tyneisha Muse’s family called her “Pooh Bear": a nickname she earned from her small size as a baby, said her cousin Kayonna Muse. While the nickname stuck through her teenage years, the 17-year-old outgrew the cuddly characteristics associated with the yellow cartoon bear.

“She was a pitbull in a skirt,” Kayonna Muse said of her 17-year-old cousin, who was fatally shot in the Upper 9th Ward Friday (March 29). She remembered Tyneisha as an outgoing, well-liked girl who “didn’t bite her tongue for nobody.”

Hundreds of cyclists ride in ‘ghost bike’ memorial for victims of Esplanade crash

A brass band played to a crowd of about 400 cyclists Saturday (March 9) under the branches of City Park’s Singing Oak tree. As the music stopped, cyclists rang their bells and quietly pedaled toward Esplanade Avenue. At the front of the procession, a cyclist towed two bicycles painted white.

One week earlier, 27-year-old Sharree Walls and 31-year-old David Hynes were struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver while riding bicycles on Esplanade Avenue after the Endymion parade. Red and yellow roses, pineapples and Mardi Gras beads decorated a tree in Fortier Park, where mourning cyclists Saturday stopped for a ceremony to honor Walls, Hynes and seven others injured in the March 2 crash.

‘It is unbelievable’: New Orleans mother mourns loss of second son to gun violence

More than 40 years ago, Glory Thomas left a tiny town in central Louisiana and moved to New Orleans in search of a better life for her three boys. Since then, she’s lost two of her sons to gun violence.

Three days ago, Thomas placed a large bouquet of roses near the spot under the Interstate 10 overpass at Claiborne Avenue and Canal Street, where her oldest son was shot to death.

“That’s the reason we moved here, to give our children a better life,” Thomas said. “Not to be murdered like animals on the street.”

‘Like Wild Wild West going on’: 1 dead, 5 wounded in downtown New Orleans shootout

A suspected gunman was killed in a shootout with police officers in downtown New Orleans that left five others wounded Sunday night (Feb. 17), authorities said, in what a witness described as a manic scene with dozens of shots fired.

“It was like ‘Wild Wild West’ going on,” said a man who was standing near the steps to the New Orleans Public Library. He said he saw a man run down Tulane Avenue then heard about 50 gunshots in a shootout between the man and more than one police officer. The witness said he later saw authorities trying to revive the man after he fell in front of Tulane Medical Center.

Mixing beats, writing lyrics gives Orleans Justice Center inmates a healthy outlet

Gary Delton’s fingers curled around the metal lattice on top of the large glass windows of the Orleans Justice Center. From the fourth floor, he pressed his head close to the bars, watching the city below him.

The white concrete walls of the jail separated him from the chaos of the colorful city. But the high ceilings and bright fluorescent lights in the room where Delton and other inmates gathered offered a stark contrast from the sterility of jail and the feeling of being locked up. An audio amplifier, a drum and bass machine, a keyboard synthesizer and a microphone were in the front of the room, amid pages of lyrics piled on the desk.

“Rewind, take it slow,” Delton sang into the microphone, as he recorded the hook to an original R&B beat during a weekly music therapy session offered by the jail. He crossed his tattoo-covered arms over his orange jumpsuit as the clip played back. He nodded his head while he listened to his voice synthesized with the voices of his fellow inmates.

Delton is one of about 70 jailed people at the Justice Center enrolled in the music therapy program, which allows both men and women an opportunity to express themselves through music and collaborate with other inmates to create original tracks.

Teen fatally shot on Lake Forest Boulevard was ‘bubbly,’ ‘ambitious' and ‘all about family,' sister says

The sister of a 19-year-old woman shot to death in New Orleans last week remembered her as a bubbly and ambitious person with wisdom beyond her years.

“She was my baby sister, but she acted like the oldest,” Dawana House said. “She kept me on the right path.”

Her sister, Toneya Young, didn’t come home from working the night shift on the morning of Dec. 16. That’s when House began to worry.

Hours later, she learned that her sister was fatally shot and found lying face-down on the side of Lake Forest Boulevard.

“It just hurt so bad that somebody would take her life so brutally,” House said. “And they don’t know that they took a beautiful spirit.”

Vigil for Pittsburgh mass shooting victims draws hundreds to Metairie synagogue

Inside a Metairie synagogue, a woman stretched her arm across the pew behind her to hold her friend’s hand. Behind her, a teary-eyed woman and a young girl sang a prayer of peace and healing, as the sound of a clarinet blended with guitar filled the standing-room-only community vigil Sunday (Oct. 28) evening.

Approximately 500 people filled the sanctuary of Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation for a vigil to honor the 11 killed and six wounded in a mass shooting on Saturday at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, one of the deadliest attacks on Jews in U.S. history.

'She was always putting family first' says cousin of woman killed in double homicide

After her uncle died in 2014, Darnisha DeSilva became the glue for her family, knowing that her uncle would want the family to stay close. 

"She was always putting family first," Ashley DeSilva said of her 22-year-old cousin, Darnisha DeSilva who was fatally shot Tuesday (Oct. 9) inside her Little Woods house along with her 23-year-old fiance.

"It's a hard pill to swallow," Ashley DeSilva said of the double homicide that left her cousin's three young children without parents.