BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gary Patureau wants to set the record straight amid growing fear after a woman was fatally shot in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood. Janessa Hartley, 57, was gunned down on Brookshire Avenue on Tuesday, January 15, just after dropping off a friend. While the killer still roams the streets, Patureau wants to reassure folks living there that the seemingly random crime is not the norm.
Recent reports claim that since 2017 there have been 13 homicides in the area but the Crime Prevention Chairman says that simply is not true.
“There are two homicides and I’m 100 percent clear on that,” Patureau said.
Patureau says the report has only fanned the flames of fear for folks in his community.
"The misinformation has had a chilling effect on the entire neighborhood. It isn’t just affecting the residents but the businesses and the school children that attend," he added. "Just in the last day we had somebody that wanted to start a new neighborhood watch that would actually patrol the area."
The neighborhood already has a watch program but with the heightened tension, he fears resident patrols could take things a step too far.
"Because once you sometimes start patrolling, that's where people get in trouble,” he said. “They can take the law into their own hands and you know go beyond what the law would allow them to do."
The Sherwood Forest Crime Prevention and Improvement District extends from south of Florida Boulevard to just north of Old Hammond Highway and from east of Sharp Road to just west of Flannery. According to WAFB records, there have only been six homicides near the district in the last two years; however, there have only been two actually within the Sherwood Forest boundary. One was a domestic incident from 2017 on Parnell Drive and the other was this latest shooting on Brookshire.
"I don't think that it translates into an increase in crime in this particular area," Patureau added.
While Baton Rouge Police are still working to connect the dots on this latest crime, Patureau hopes whoever did this will be brought to justice sooner rather than later. He adds neighborhood leaders will send out more information to residents by Tuesday.
Anyone with information on the shooting is encouraged to contact BRPD or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-STOP.