A half-dozen local pastors gathered Wednesday morning on a Central City street corner, the front line of the city's gang wars, and held vigil for a 14-year-old boy gunned down there Sunday afternoon.
They borrowed language from the man they'd come there to honor: "Enough is enough," they said of the violence.
The Rev. John Raphael, the Central City minister who tirelessly pleaded for an end to the bloodshed, was buried later Wednesday morning.
Raphael's words were repeated again at another meeting across town just a few moments later, when Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas stood outside police headquarters to announce that a 31-year-old man was wanted for killing the teen on the Central City corner.
Milton Bangham, whose rap sheet already includes gun, drugs and domestic violence charges, turned himself in hours later to be booked with second-degree murder.
He is accused of killing 14-year-old Edward Barton, shot dead while he sat on a porch at Sixth and Danneel streets around 6 p.m. Sunday.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, joined by Mayor Mitch Landrieu at a news conference outside police headquarters, said police believe that Barton was Bangham's intended target.
"This adult killed a baby. He killed a baby on a Sunday afternoon," the chief said. "He has no conscience."
The chief said that investigators believe they know what prompted the shooting, but declined to detail the motive.
"When you look at the killings in the history of New Orleans in the last 20 years, I think it can be simply summarized by this: So little is needed to take so much," Landrieu said. "It's hard to fathom what a 14-year-old might have done to a 31-year-old to make him the target of a killing."
Serpas reiterated that Bangham has been booked with felonies 10 times, and again more than 40 times on misdemeanor charges. His criminal record dates back to 2000, when he was booked with possession of marijuana.
In the years since, Bangham's been booked 10 times on charges of marijuana and crack distribution, illegal use of a weapon, simple battery, simple robbery, unauthorized entry of a dwelling, failure to return a rented vehicle and resisting arrest. Each time, under former district attorneys, the charges were dismissed, or he was given a suspended sentence.
"He has chosen a life of crime and yet he is still on the streets," Serpas said. "Mr. Bangham has no place on the streets of the city of New Orleans."
He was finally convicted in September 2009 of possession with intent to distribute crack. He was sentenced to four years.
Chris Bowman, spokesman for Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, noted that the dismissed charges all came under previous district attorneys.
"This is what happens when you are constantly dismissing cases, it leads to a bad result and you're looking at it right here," Bowman said. "The one time we had a crack at him, we convicted him."
Source: The Advocate | CLAIRE GALOFARO