My Jaguar Alarm Clock

Yesterday I woke up to the metallic sound of a 15-year-old crashing a carjacked Jaguar just feet from our door.

The kid and his passenger sped past a nearby grade school and panicked when they saw a uniformed police captain leaving for work. Then they ricocheted into a series of cars, finally rolling into the one in front of our apartment. A neighbor friend and my husband ran outside to help as the officer waited for backup. The passenger got away, but the driver was booked on charges including driving without a license, resisting arrest, battery, hit and run, possession of a stolen car and reckless driving.

The Jaguar's owner told me that he was driving down St. Bernard Avenue when another driver blocked his car from a side street, then approached his vehicle and told him at gunpoint, "Give me your car or I'll kill you." A day later, he got the call about his car. Waiting for the tow-truck, he was visibly shaken as his mother waited with him.

Neighbors started to gather, like they do after a crisis. Some of their cars were blocked by the Jag. One man said his car had already been stolen twice and hit and run twice, so hopefully it's totaled and he can start over. A concerned parent walked down the street from the school and said he's heard about expanding violence and children being robbed near the playground. I hope that's only an urban legend.

This season, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is here as the music community puts its best festival foot forward. Crime has to be deterred so tourists will come back and fill the clubs. The clubs have to stay open so musicians who are home don't have to move away again. The music is what brings in the tourists. And that's the vicious cycle.

I last came back to town during the uptown tornadoes, and before that it was during the explosion of violence over the holidays. One of our neighbors down here wondered aloud if we're were bringing the bad luck down with us. But I'm still feeling lucky with this particular near-miss.

This 15-year-old was not carrying a gun.

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