Mark Essex  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Mark James Robert Essex (1949 – January 7, 1973) killed 9 people, including police, and wounded 13 others in New Orleans on January 7, 1973.



Mark James Robert Essex was born in Emporia, Kansas. His friends remembered him as a quiet, happy person, who had talked about becoming a minister. Essex then joined the United States Navy, where he was subjected to two years of ceaseless racial abuse. He was given a general discharge for unsuitability on 10 February 1971, for "character and behavior disorders." After his discharge, he became involved with black radicals in San Francisco, California and later joined the New York Black Panthers.

New Year's Eve, 1972

At the age of 23 and living in New Orleans, Essex began targeting police officers. On New Year's Eve 1972 Essex parked his car and went down Perdido Street, a block from the New Orleans Police Department. He hid in a parking lot across from the busy central lockup and used a Ruger .44 Magnum carbine to kill Cadet Alfred Harrell, 19. Lt. Horace Perez was also wounded in the attack. Interestingly, Harrell was black, although Essex said he was going to kill "just honkies" before beginning his murderous attacks. Essex evaded being taken into custody, and later returned, killing Officer Edwin Hosli Sr.

7 January 1973

It was 10:15am, 7 January 1973, when Essex shot grocer Joe Perniciaro with his .44 Magnum carbine. Essex was making his way to The Downtown Howard Johnson's Hotel on 330 Loyola Ave. Gaining entry from a fire stairwell on the 18th floor, Essex told three startled black hotel employees not to worry, as he was only there to kill white people. In the hallway in front of room 1829 Essex found a 27-year-old vacationing Dr. Robert Steagall and his wife Betty. After a struggle with Steagall, Essex shot him in the chest. He then shot the wife of the doctor in the back of the head. In the room, he soaked telephone books with lighter fluid and set them ablaze under the curtains. Essex dropped the African flag onto the floor beside the bodies of the couple as he left. Down on the 11th floor, Essex shot his way into rooms and set more fires. On the 11th floor, he shot and killed Frank Schneider, the hotel assistant manager, and shot Walter Collins, the hotel general manager. Three weeks later, Collins died in the hospital as a result of the gunshot wounds.

The police and fire department quickly arrived. Two officers tried to use a fire truck's ladder to enter the building, but were shot at by Essex. Attempting to rescue trapped officers, Deputy Chief Sirgo was shot in the spine by Essex, and died. Lt. Lewis Townsend, a Tulane medical student, walked into the open field to carry the wounded officer to safety, then returned to class.

Seeing the story on TV, Lt. General Chuck Pitman of the United States Marine Corps offered the use of a CH-46 military helicopter to assist the police officers. The helicopter was loaded with armed men and sent up. By this time, Essex has retreated up to the roof of the building where he and the helicopter exchanged many rounds over many hours. As nightfall came, Essex managed to hole himself up in a concrete cubicle that would protect him in the northwest side of the roof. Right as he stepped out in the open to fire again on the helicopter, and after hitting the helicopter's transmission, Essex was barraged with fatal gunfire from police sharpshooters on the roofs of adjacent buildings. An autopsy later revealed more than 200 gunshot wounds.

Before the attack, the television station WWL received a handwritten note from Essex. It read:

'Africa greets you. On Dec. 31, 1972, aprx. 11 p.m., the downtown New Orleans Police Department will be attacked. Reason — many, but the death of two innocent brothers will be avenged. And many others.

<i>P.S. Tell pig Giarrusso the felony action squad ain't shit.



After the smoke had cleared, a tally revealed that Essex had shot 19 people, including 10 police officers.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mark Essex" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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