When Herb Dyer first read about Saturdays fatal shooting on Chippewa Street, the owner of the Bulldog bar chain says it failed to register. Then he got a phone call on Sunday from one of his managers: The victim, 37-year-old Brian Thicksten from Gulfport, Miss., was the new grill cook at Dyers business on Magazine Street. At the time he was killed around 8:20 p.m. Thicksten was en route to his Irish Channel residence to drop off his dog before returning for a 9 p.m. shift.
Our managers from Gulfport, Dyer says. He grew up with him, knew him his whole life. Monday Brians mom drove in from Gulfport to identify his body. She was very upset and [its obvious] why. I only met Brian once, but I feel like his murder means nothing.
Dyer, a lifelong New Orleanian, is referring to a local culture in which violent crimes such as the one that claimed Thicksten are an increasingly foregone conclusion. The Biloxi Sun Herald reports that when Charlotte Martin called the New Orleans coroner to ask if the deceased was indeed her son, the only reply was affirmative.
Its not even reported in the papers, and no one cares about it, Dyer says. We cant even get any information on it.
Over the last week, Thickstens MySpace page has become a primary source of information for mourners and well-wishers, as well as an outlet for levity from the former punk-rockers friends. (Thicksten was the frontman for local band the Nasty Habits.) Give heaven hell, one writes. A digital flyer announces three memorials this weekend: two concerts (9 p.m. Saturday at the Saturn Bar and 8 p.m. Sunday at the Hi-Ho Lounge) and a candlelight vigil, the latter scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the corner of Sixth and Chippewa streets, the site of Thickstens murder.
Above that intersection is a nonfunctioning crime camera a symbol, Dyer says, of the citys core problem in fighting crime. It was just released in the paper the other day that 50 percent of the murders, they dont have a witness, suspect, anything, he says. Its like the joke with the cameras. Weve just got to do a better job. It seems like the police are doing what they can. Hopefully, (new DA Leon) Cannizzaro will start to take control and things will turn around.
For up-to-date information about crime in New Orleans, visit www.citizencrimewatch.org.