Authorities are on the lookout for the person or persons behind the fatal shooting of a police officer in New Orleans over the weekend. However, the investigation has turned up few suspects. No arrests have been made, and it was still unclear Tuesday who killed the officer or why the ambush occurred, according to local media reports.
Authorities identified the victim Monday as 45-year-old James Bennett Jr., the Times-Picayune reported. Bennett had been a police officer with the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) since 2013 and was found dead in his patrol car Sunday morning near the construction site of a new mixed-income housing project. Bennett was the first officer with the housing authority killed in the line of duty.
When officers discovered Bennett’s cruiser, they found the driver’s side window broken out and the cruiser lights still flashing. The patrol car was in drive and had hit a curb, according to WWL-TV.
“The death of this HANO police officer is an unspeakable tragedy, and a vile and cowardly act,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement, according to ABC News. “Tragedies that involve our men and women in uniform affect our entire city and touch every member of our law enforcement community. We are deeply saddened by this loss, and our hearts and prayers are with the officer’s friends and family and with the entire HANO family during this very difficult time.”
Investigators combed the streets near where the officer was shot for evidence. They said the immediate area where the shooting occurred was not populated, but authorities began canvassing nearby neighborhoods on Sunday to see if they could gather any information related to the officer’s death.
"Such a tragic loss," Police Chief Robert Anderson told reporters, according to the Times-Picayune. "We have never had an on-duty death in the department's history. We know the men and women of the NOPD will work to bring this to a conclusion."