New Orleans beefs up security on eve of Super Bowl

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronald Serpas said that based on estimates, there has been a reduction of crimes such as burglaries, rapes, and auto thefts.
CBS News

(CBS News) NEW ORLEANS - The police in New Orleans are calling in reinforcements as thousands of people pour into the city for the Super Bowl this weekend. We take a look at the city and the state of crime there.

This was one month ago Tuesday night -- the most frightening moment of Tim Nguyen's life. In a scene captured by a video camera, Nguyen is shown inside his store being robbed by a man with a gun.

"I couldn't bear to watch it at all," Nguyen said now after watching the video replayed on a laptop.

Nguyen has owned a small grocery in New Orleans for 20 years. He'd never been robbed before. Police say Anthony Fields hopped the counter with a handgun and told Nguyen to get down on the floor.

Tim Nguyen was pistol-whipped by a robber inside his store in Louisiana. After the incident, he said he would plan to sell his business. CBS News

"I tried to grab his gun," said Nguyen. He said he had never been in a fight before. "This is survival mode right here."

Nguyen says he struggled for 15 minutes and was pistol-whipped eight times before the assailant grabbed $500 and ran.

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Still, New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronald Serpas said crime stats out Thursday show that New Orleans is turning a corner on crime.

"We preliminarily estimate that in 2012, there were less murders, less rapes, less armed robberies, less auto burglaries, less residential burglaries, less business burglaries, less auto thefts," he said.

But the murder rate is ten times the national average. During Super Bowl week, Serpas is quadrupling the number of officers patrolling the French Quarter. He's getting help from neighboring departments so police presence in high-crime neighborhoods doesn't diminish.

"We're working on this issue very hard of young men killing each other," he said. "But when you get down here to the French Quarter, usually the most danger you're going to suffer is a hangover form a hurricane or a hand-grenade."

Those are cocktails, not threats. But Tim Ngyuen, whose store isn't in the French Quarter, has had enough.

"I told my wife we need to sell the business and get out of here real quick," he said.

Anthony Fields was arrested a week later. He was on probation for a number of armed robberies. The chief said said given his record, if Fields is convicted, he expects him to be put away for 99 years.

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    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning" and other CBS News broadcasts.