Officer Slain in N.O. East Wanted to Make a Difference

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The New Orleans Police Department lost one of its own during an early-morning shooting Friday, October 13, that claimed of life of three-year veteran Marcus McNeil, a 29-year-old husband and father of two.

The fatal shooting occurred shortly after midnight near the intersection of Tara Lane and Lake Forest Boulevard in eastern New Orleans.

News spread quickly about the death of the popular officer as his colleagues gathered to honor a fallen comrade Friday morning.

"This hurts,” NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison later said outside of University Medical Center, where McNeil died. “I can’t begin to tell you how much this hurts.”

WWL reported Friday that McNeil was known as “Milk Dud” by his fellow officers, according to a NOPD newsletter. The article quotes McNeil who said he adopted the nickname after someone he arrested tried to get a rise from him and called him “Milk Dud” because of his bald head.

Harrison said four officers made an “observation” that caused them to hop out of their police vehicles, at which point an unidentified man opened fire and hit McNeil several times.

Ronald Thomas, who lives nearby, said he saw a man fire four shots at the officer.

Harrison said that one or two of the officers returned fire, possibly striking the suspect, who then ran into a nearby apartment. Several officers surrounded the apartment, while others rendered aid to the wounded officer and alerted EMS, who rushed McNeil to UMC.

Family members identified the man accused of killing McNeil as 30-year-old Darren Bridges.

Authorities said the shooter later surrendered to police and was brought to UMC. His name and condition were not immediately released but police said he was placed under arrest.

Family members confirmed Bridges was at University Medical Center after being shot by police officers early Friday, but declined to comment any further.

Bridges is described as a “career criminal” in court records. His criminal history includes more than a dozen arrests and at least three guilty pleas, going back to 2004.

There was a large police presence at Cypress Parc Apartments near where the shooting happened. The NOPD, Louisiana State Police and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the scene.

“There was only one gunman,” said Harrison, who said that he did not know immediately if the suspect had a prior record.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was on the scene and asked for prayers for the officer.

“These are the worst kinds of days for the city,” Landrieu said. “We want to keep (the family) in our thoughts and prayers. There were a lot of officers who knew this officer very well. The entire department is in trauma.”

The Advocate reported that New Orleans Magazine profiled McNeil as part of a story on a police recruit class that graduated on April 2, 2015. His wife, Brittiny, said in that story that her husband had “always wanted” to join NOPD because of his desire to make a difference in a city plagued with crime and poverty.

McNeil’s mother said she learned about her son’s slaying shortly after it happened. She politely excused herself after a brief conversation with a reporter, saying, “I just need to be with my family.”

McNeil, a Kenner, La. resident, had been assigned to the NOPD’s 7th District, which is New Orleans East, since 2015.

He is survived by a wife and two children, ages two and five.