By Peter Hernon

On New Year's Eve in New Orleans, 1972, Mark James Essex started some of the most violent and lethal sniper assaults on policemen that any American urban had ever seen.

It was once another tragic trip down the line of hatred, and ahead of it ended one week later, 1000s of seriously armed police and a Marine Corps attack helicopter will be referred to as to a burning downtown resort to conflict phantom gunmen who refused to give up or to be killed.

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Additional info for A Terrible Thunder. The Story of the New Orleans Sniper

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There’s further evidence that he mingled off-base with other tough-talking blacks in the San Diego area. These individuals (who are not named in police or military documents) undoubtedly felt their relationship with Essex was one of student-teacher: the naive black from backwoods America needed to be informed what it was like to be beaten down by the system. What influence they had on Essex is not known; whatever it was, it became increasingly clear to Dr. Hatcher and others that the young sailor had changed.

Lying nearby were four spent Winchester Western casing and two live rounds. The pistol and ammunition were behind a stack of sewer pipe about three feet high. Mutz sent the pistol and shells to the crime lab so that they could be dusted for finger prints. Then he measured the distance to the lockup with his eyes, less than a football field, 250 feet at most, he thought. A good shot for a sniper working at night. “Look at this,” said a cop standing near him. ” Burned fragments of red-and-blue paper littered the ground.

The harassment also continued in the mess hall and gymnasium where Essex liked to spend a half-hour a day working out with weights and doing calisthenics — the same slurs, the same twisted expressions of hatred. Soon, the pressure began to affect his work at the dental clinic. He was keyed up, nervous and began to take sedatives from the medicine chest. It was during this time of increasing tension that Essex, perhaps in the interest of self-defense, asked for additional firearms training. Like all the other Navy recruits, he had received familiarization with the M-1 at boot camp.

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