Woman carjacked, run over while pumping gas at Costco

Carrollton Avenue Costco gas pumps
Carrollton Avenue Costco gas pumps(WVUE)
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 9:02 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2022 at 4:30 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A woman refueling her SUV was knocked unconscious and hospitalized when an auto thief ran her over while stealing her vehicle Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 1), New Orleans police said.

The brazen incident occurred at about 2:52 p.m. at the busy gas station of Costco New Orleans, near the Hollygrove and Gert Town neighborhoods at 3900 Dublin St.

New Orleans police have not disclosed the 45-year-old woman’s condition but said she suffered injuries to her head, face, and arm. Nor have they said whether they have developed a suspect in the case. The stolen vehicle is a white Nissan Pathfinder bearing Louisiana license plate 428DBW, the NOPD said.

The woman was fueling up the vehicle at its passenger-side gas tank when the suspect jumped into the driver’s seat, the NOPD said. The victim tried hanging on to the vehicle as the suspect started to drive off, but fell to the ground and was run over by the SUV’s back wheel as the thief sped away.

“It was so quick,” a witness tells FOX 8. “Burning rubber out of the parking lot and all you could hear is her being run over by her own car.”

Carrollton Avenue Costco gas pumps
Carrollton Avenue Costco gas pumps(WVUE)

Dr. Aarti Pais ran over to the victim, who was lying on the ground, bloody and unconscious.

“Initially I thought she didn’t have an arm because she was twisted and contorted and just bleeding from the face,” Dr. Pais recalled. “I checked her head for wounds but she had a laceration which bleeds profusely and I think that’s why her face was full of blood, but she had abrasions all over her arms and I think that was from being dragged.”

Witnesses say they were especially disappointed to see so many people casually going on with their lives.

“A lot of people just stood there,” a witness says. “The guys behind me asked me to move my car so they could get to the pump.”

Dr. Pais says bystanders continued pumping gas as the woman was being dragged by her own vehicle.

“People continued filling gas for the first several minutes,” she says. “I don’t know if they were shocked or scared or didn’t want to be bothered but is this the new normal in our city?”

Carrollton Avenue Costco gas pumps
Carrollton Avenue Costco gas pumps(WVUE)

“I kept thinking that could have been me,” Dr. Pais says. “I was the next car in line and usually I have my kids with me. There’s so much going on in the world right now and there’s so much to worry about. Pumping gas should not be one of them.”

The night before, Mon., Jan. 31, a woman in line for gas at Costco captured a similar carjacking attempt on her dashcam. In the video, a white SUV pulls up to a woman pumping gas. An unknown person exits the SUV and attempts to jump into her barely-opened driver’s side door. The woman is able to shove the suspected offender away and the SUV flees.

“People I know personally have been victims,” a witness says. “I know people who love this city but they’re making plans to move.”

“They took her car yes, but they left her there to die,” Dr. Pais says. “It’s more than just a carjacking.”

Residents say the violent crime in New Orleans is outrageous and something needs to be done.

“I live in fear knowing that these same people are getting away with this,” Dr. Pais says. “There’s a woman in the ICU right now that was just running errands and filling gas. She was in her gym clothes.”

Costco’s fueling station is usually quite busy during business hours and staffed by an attendant. The membership warehouse also has had private security patrolling its parking lot in a marked vehicle since late last year, after two women loading groceries into their vehicles were carjacked at gunpoint in a span of three days on Nov. 10 and Nov. 12.

Carjackings are happening across New Orleans at an alarming rate. According to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, the NOPD has investigated more than 50 carjackings so far this year.

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In a press conference Wednesday, NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson says his department is broadening its crime-fighting plan.

Ferguson says he will enhance the NOPD Violent Crime Abatement Team with partnerships at the federal level, as well as creating a Community Action Team in every district to proactively address violent crime.

“This is a serious problem that requires serious collaboration,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. “You will see action but we need to hold violent offenders accountable.”

Mayor Cantrell joined Ferguson is saying more needs to be done in the criminal justice system.

“To keep them off the streets starts with NOPD but what happens after that really doesn’t speak to overall accountability that we need in our city and we need in our criminal justice system across the board.”

Ferguson did not address the NOPD’s ongoing manpower issues, but he is considering moving to 12-hour patrol shifts to increase visibility and reduce response times.

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