I’m just a janitor in a dive bar who heard sirens. We in the Quarter generally ignore it as background noise. When I saw emergency vehicles race past the windows going in the opposite direction of the one way on Toulouse Street, I stuck my head out. The next block was taped off due to the stand-off on Dauphine Street. I strolled down, found crime tape marked US MARSHALS draped across the street and unmarked vehicles.
Standing at the tape was a tradesman with a tool bag on the sidewalk next to him. He told me he was trying to go to work but his work truck was in the middle of this unfolding drama. He was the first to tell me about an armed man barricaded in a house and in a stand-off with law enforcement. We watched the US Marshals in full tactical gear pace back and forth with long guns.
I gathered details from both media and the locals standing in front of dive bars. I spoke to several who were familiar with the house and occupants. Apparently, in the weeks prior there had been conflict and drama among roommates. One person (who wished to remain anonymous) said they knew Eddy Roche and claimed to have allegedly snorted drugs with him on several occasions. Recently, according to this individual, Mr. Roche had become very erratic in behavior and had been seen flashing a .22-caliber pistol. A second individual, who was acquainted with one of the roommates, also noted Roche’s behavior had become so unpredictable that the roommates had to move out.
I was later contacted by a third individual who worked on that block and who stated that he was not surprised that Roche made the news. Those on the block were suspicious of the residence being a location for drug deals. People in and out daily, only staying for a few minutes at a time.
The NOPD narrative is: A contractor thinking the unit was empty, entered and was confronted by Roche who fired several shots at the contractor. The contractor was not struck by gunfire, fled and called the police. NOPD arrived, the suspect discarded his weapon and retreated to the house and barricaded himself inside.
The “contractor” angle smelled like bullshit. As much work as the structure needed, the tradesman I interviewed said he never saw anyone doing work there before. Was the landlord aware of the conflicts between roommates?
I have other questions: Did he confirm sending a contractor to the location with a key? Was he sent to do work or to evict? Why did the property owner assume the apartment was empty? Did he contact the tenants prior? Having worked as a house painter in rental properties, I never assumed any unit was empty upon first entering. You always knock loud and announce yourself.
I know a Quarter resident who bartends at night and sleeps during the day. She was awoken one afternoon to the sound of mens’ voices in her living room. They were greeted by a naked woman pointing a gun at them screaming “Who the fuck are you and how did you get in?” It was a case of a property manager not making the proper arrangements with the tenant. The manager had relied on a morning text message to the sleeping bartender: “We’ll be over in a few hours to look at the leak in the roof,” and didn’t wait on a confirmation reply.
Something about this part of the story sounds shaky to me. As many times as I have been questioned by cops over the years, I would like to ask the NOPD a few. Did you speak to the property owner to confirm the authenticity of the contractor’s story? Why did he tell the contractor the unit was empty when there may have been at least three occupants? Any sign that this incident might have escalated from a drug deal gone bad?
I went over the next day to take some photos of the house from Dauphine Street from the stand-off. On the stoop was a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of “DC comic Bombshells” and a package of tampons. Wassup with dat?
These are the questions that have been bouncing around my head as I sweep the floors of a dive bar.