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Wounded NOPD Officer in Critical Condition

by Mary Kilpatrick

A New Orleans police officer, who was shot multiple times in the Bywater Saturday morning, is hospitalized in an intensive care unit, according to police. CrimeStoppers is offering a $10,000 cash reward for anyone with information about the incident. An unknown suspect shot John Passaro, a three-year veteran with the department, as he responded to an armed robbery at a Dollar General in the 1100 block of Poland Ave. shortly before 7:30 a.m.


Passaro was one of the first units at the scene. When he arrived on the scene, it was not clear whether a person or the store was being robbed, according to a NOPD statement.


Passaro entered the business, and observed no cashiers or employees. He then walked toward the closed door of the manager’s office. There, an armed gunman hid with three employees, whom he had ordered to empty two safes.


When Passaro stood outside the door and announced himself as a police officer, the suspect opened the door, and opened fire, shooting three times. Police say two of those bullets hit Passaro.


Simultaneously, the gunman fled from the store. One of the customers in the store who formerly worked as a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy, picked up Passaro’s radio and said, “Officer down,” giving police the location.


Within two minutes, officers already dispatched to the original call arrived at the scene, and that a perimeter was quickly set, according to police. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including SWAT team officers, the canine unit, State Trooper and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office searched the area all day for the suspect. Though helicopters circled downtown for hours, and SWAT teams combed the area, no arrests have been made.


Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said he applauded Passaro’s bravery, and that his “thoughts and prayers” were with Officer Passaro and his family after this “incredibly tragic event”, and that NOPD was working hard to make an arrest.


“Our detectives are making great strides in this investigation in terms of evidence as well as interviews,” Serpas said. “And the community has come forward to help us make real progress.”


The suspect is described as a light-complexioned man in his mid to late 30’s.  He is approximately 5 foot, 7 inches, with a slim build.  He was last seen wearing a grey hoodie, blue jeans and a blue or blue and white bandana covering the bottom part of his face and sunglasses. 


Anyone with information about this shooting is encouraged to call 911, as this suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Police say you can also call CrimeStoppers at 504.822.1111. You will not have to give your name.


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