The brutal beating of a tourist in New Orleans sends chills to the entire city during holiday tourism season.
It also adds to the city’s reputation as one of the most dangerous places in America.
The New Orleans Police Department said the death of 73-year-old David Sorenson from Missouri was an act of random violence.
On December 1, Sorenson and his wife were in St. They slept in their room at the Avenue Plaza Hotel in Charles. Police said a man broke in and beat Sorenson to death while his wife was hiding in the bathroom.
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Martin Hurtado, 29, who worked at a nearby restaurant, was arrested for the crime.
With New Orleans on its way to becoming America’s murder capital this year, the gruesome event has some business owners in the city’s tourist district fearing visitors will no longer come.
Monique Hamilton, co-owner of Unique Nola Tours, says tour guides need to work harder.
“I employ 15 tour guides,” Hamilton said. “We offer 7 different laps, but we’re lucky if we’ve done two or three laps a day in the last few weeks. It’s slow. It really is.”
Hamilton says the city’s peak winter season really picked up in January, but he wonders what effect crime has had.
As of December 11, 2022, there were 264 homicides in New Orleans. This is St. Louis has the highest number of homicides per resident of the United States, surpassing Chicago and New York City. It’s also a 134% increase from just three years ago. According to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, there were 113 homicides in New Orleans in 2019.
“While the vast majority of crime is committed between people who know each other, it scares some people,” Hamilton said. “People who have never been here, I think that will deter them.”
Since starting the tour company in 2016, Hamilton says crime concerns have always been part of the conversation. He believes this slow season has more to do with inflation and people who don’t have the money to travel, but he can’t ignore the blame.
“We get asked questions about crime, especially at corporate events, but I don’t think it’s affecting tourism too much,” Hamilton said. said.
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Hamilton’s business has had its fair share of events over the past year, but he is grateful that none of his guests or guides were hurt.
In May, security cameras recorded an attempted shooting outside the door of his shop. The video shows a man shooting a gun, but the gun jams. The spectators fall to the ground as the men involved run in different directions.
Hamilton has also attacked two tour guides in the past six months.
“One was a resident of the French Quarter,” Hamilton said. “He went up and pushed one of my tour guides down. The other was a homeless person who came up to one of the tour guides and pulled a knife.”
On both occasions, the tour guides managed to get their groups to safety quickly, Hamilton says.
“The guidelines are made for that,” Hamilton said. “They know this kind of thing is inevitable in the French Quarter. You have to wait for something to happen because it happens everywhere, no matter the city.”
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Tourists who visited New Orleans last week were surprised to learn about crime trends in the city while speaking to Fox News, but said they had safety in mind.
“We’re not lax about swarming money and we don’t stay out late at night,” said Sophia and James Smith, visiting from the Houston area.
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“We’re always looking and watching,” said John and Janet Allison of Louisville. “He puts his wallet in his front pocket, and I zip my purse over my shoulder.”
This year of rampant crime also comes at a time when NOPD is hitting record low numbers. Last year, those in the hospitality industry raised funds for additional patrols in the French Quarter.