Special Report: Terror in Tigerland
BATON ROUGE - Crime is down after a series of reports about terror in Tigerland - the city's popular bar district south of LSU.
“Tigerland is just like any other neighborhood. A very good neighborhood. The people who live there, 99 percent of them are law-abiding and want a safe community," District Attorney Hillar Moore said in a recent interview. "It's just that one percent, a very small percent, that causes the trouble.”
Some of that one percent might be from other areas, who go to Tigerland for a good time. A mix of college living places and bars make for a cocktail that causes terror in Tigerland.
For months, a television crew reporting for the WBRZ Investigative Unit captured video in Tigerland showing college students running from bars after incidents inside establishments.
"I saw a man get stabbed," one guy said leaving the area.
"He lifted up his hoodie, and there was blood everywhere," another person said as she tried to leave one night.
The Investigative Unit requested data from emergency dispatchers. Between May 2014 and June 2015, police were called to the most popular bars in Tigerland 183 times.
People called reporting violent crimes such as fights, armed robberies and attempted rape.
In one piece of video, WBRZ recorded police unloading a gun after arresting two people. One of the people arrested, Christopher Hicks, has a hearing in court Tuesday.
In another case, a woman claimed she was raped after a night of underage drinking at a bar in Tigerland where there were drink specials.
“When we first started looking at numbers, it was from summer to September and we were amazed that the numbers were really that high," Moore said.
With the numbers so startling, authorities - from the DA, to police and state alcohol agents - made it a priority to try to hammer out the problem.
“People think about Tigerland as the bar area which is one way of thinking of it. But, also it’s the other apartment complexes and condos that are around there. So, it’s kind of two separate problems and on some occasions the two nailed together.”
Moore said he became aware of the growing problem and investigated the issues himself after numerous reports on WBRZ newscasts and WBRZ.com.
But, for victims, it's too late. Business owner Rania Ahmed put her Tigerland market up for lease after being robbed twice at the store then at her home where her family was pistol-whipped.
“When you get robbed with a gun in your own business, what’s left? Your life under the finger of somebody and you’re gone," Ahmed said in an interview about the attacks and her decision to leave.
Police arrested two people in the Ahmed case and linked them to both the business robberies and the home invasion of Ahmed's residence.
Authorities said they are looking into other options besides police patrols to keep Tigerland safe. A suggestion has been installing license plate readers at the entrances to the Tigerland district but funding will most likely be an issue.
Some bars have asked for police to work details - off duty, paid gigs - at bars but a police policy prevents officers from working in a bar.