I say “potential” because we don’t know the specific motivation of the man who tried to get into Charise Taylor’s car the other day while she was stuck in traffic, but we do know that carjackings are soaring in the Crescent City at the moment, with more than 30 carjackings reported in just the first two weeks of 2022.
Thankfully Taylor was prepared to protect herself and her young child when the stranger approached her on the interstate.
“You shouldn’t have to navigate your own city like a war zone. It’s un-American,” Taylor said. “The crime is out of control and it’s terrifying. At this point, having to use the same tactics in an American city that you use in Iraq and Afghanistan simply to navigate through the city it’s scary and I’m not the only mom feeling this way.”
Taylor said she was headed to pick up her husband on Friday.
She was stuck in gridlock traffic, she said a group in a truck motioned to her to get over.
So, she let them. Next thing she knows a man comes up to her passenger door.
“So, as he comes up he’s close and he’s pretty aggressive trying to get the car door open makes eye contact with me he’s still trying to get it open a couple times,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she picked up her gun.
“It’s locked and loaded,” she recalled saying.
Taylor didn’t have to pull the trigger, because the presence of her firearm was enough to convince the man to move on down the road, though the veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan says she was willing to do so if she believed it was necessary to protect her life and the life of her child.
Carjackings are out of control in New Orleans right now, and according to police, the spike is driven by juvenile offenders who often receive little punishment for their crimes. In fact, just yesterday New Orleans news outlet WWL-TV highlighted the case(s) of 18-year old Quentin Skipper, who they say “could be Exhibit A of the system’s failure to deal with young carjacking suspects.”
Skipper was first charged with nine carjackings back in 2019, when he was 16-years old. Even though he’s still awaiting trial on those charges, Skipper was returned to the streets where he allegedly committed at least two more carjackings in January of this year.
“I was blown away,” said Elizabeth Schindler, one of the victims in that 2019 carjacking spree. Back then she wanted to remain anonymous, but now she has come forward to speak openly about the case. She said she was still waiting to be called for Skipper’s trial when WWL-TV told her he had been released and re-arrested as an adult.
“Imagine my utter shock when you reach out and you tell me, oh, turns out he’s been out,” she said.
Schindler wasn’t the only person dismayed that Skipper was released.
Cardella Skipper is Quinton’s mother. She said she pleaded with juvenile justice authorities to provide help for her son. She said she received vague promises, but nothing happened.
“They told the judge that they (Juvenile Justice Intervention Center) would prefer to give him back to his mom,” Cardella Skipper said. “Because they didn’t know how to deal with him and they didn’t want the responsibility. He didn’t get the help that he needed.”
As his family admits, Quinton needed help. He his father died when he was a baby. He lost a brother to diabetes. After a mental illness diagnosis as a young teenager, he started getting into scrapes with the law. Then at 14, he suffered a life-threatening aneurysm.
One of Quinton’s older brothers, Garland, remembers that episode all too well
“Since the aneurysm, he had a problem,” Garland said. “My brother really hasn’t been the same ever since.”
The next time Quinton was arrested after his hospital stay, things got worse.
“He got injured in jail. Somebody hit him to his head,” Cardella Skipper said. “He wasn’t supposed to take no blow to his head.”
Quinton’s mental state grew more volatile. His trips to juvenile jail became more frequent. But programs to curb his behavior did not.
“The system failed him,” Cardella said.
The juvenile justice system didn’t rehabilitate Skipper. It didn’t even take him off the streets. Honestly, it sounds like the system didn’t do much at all to dissuade Skipper from continuing down the dead end road he’s traveling on. At the same time, however, Skipper’s family did bail him out of jail just a few months ago after he was arrested last summer on drug offenses (with a charge of assaulting a corrections officer tacked on after he was in custody. I can’t place all of the blame on the system when Skipper’s family could have told him they weren’t going to bail him out.
As it stands, once Skipper was free, police say he quickly returned to his old ways, engaging in multiple carjackings, assaults, and armed robberies before he was arrested as an adult in early January.
While Skipper is now once again in custody (and facing the potential of a 99-year prison sentence), at least one of his previous victims has decided she doesn’t want to be helpless if she’s ever again the target of a violent attack.
Schindler said she hopes the system can find ways to help juveniles like Skipper. But in the meantime, after her boyfriend was carjacked himself on New Year’s Eve, both went out and purchased guns for protection.
“It was very shocking and sobering thing when I told my parents,” Schindler said of her gun purchase..
“I just don’t want to be that helpless like that on a daily basis,” her boyfriend, Blake Aguillard said.
Nobody does, but I’m glad they now understand that your safety is ultimately your responsibility. Even in the best of circumstances police aren’t likely to respond quickly enough to prevent a crime from taking place, and while carrying a firearm in self-defense doesn’t guarantee that you’ll survive a violent encounter, it not only gives you a fighting chance to do so, but may very well prevent a crime from escalating into violence in the first place.