Will Smith Tragedy Leaves Local Newspaper Columnist Numb

Like the rest of the nation, sportswriter Rod Walker can't make sense of what happened this weekend.

The tragic weekend shooting death of former New Orleans defensive end Will Smith is all over the front pages of today’s Crescent City newspapers. And at the top of those same newspaper websites.

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The circumstances of the crime are still being sorted out. In the meantime, there are the resonant thoughts of New Orleans Advocate sportswriter Rod Walker, filed under the print headline “How Many Wake-Up Calls Does New Orleans Need?” and under the Web headline “Four Years Ago, Will Smith Said It Best – ‘New Orleans… Please Stop the Violence:”

Smith’s death came four years after he went to Twitter and sent out a plea after a slew of murders hit the city. “Wow, 20 murders in 26 days? New Orleans… please stop the violence,” Smith tweeted Jan. 26, 2012.

Smith is the 31st homicide victim in New Orleans this year. If you’re looking for some silver lining, that number is down from the 46 homicides committed by this time last year, according to NOPD spokesperson Tyler Gamble.

Walker rightly notes that in a city plagued by violence, it doesn’t matter what the exact circumstances of the Saturday night incident turn out to be. ‘It shouldn’t have ended this way,’ he writes.