By Susan Finch for the Times Picayune:
A 54-year-old Pineville engineer working as a construction inspector for the government at two federal buildings downtown was shot to death early Thursday in front of his temporary residence on a quiet block in the city's West Carrollton section.
Anthony "Tony" White had come home to the 8400 block of Panola Street after working his night shift when someone shot him once in the face at close range, then ran over him twice before fleeing in White's vehicle.
The motive behind the murder remains murky. After shooting White shortly before 3 a.m., the assailant took White's keys and fled in White's blue Jeep Liberty, with Louisiana license plate PFV402. Nothing else was stolen, police said.
Police spokesman Sgt. Joe Narcisse said Thursday it appeared the murder was a "random act of violence."
"We haven't noticed any patterns of crime in that neighborhood, certainly nothing that would have indicated we should be on the lookout for this," he said.
The assailant left behind White's expensive watch, wedding band and wallet, according to Brad Robinson, who had rented White the pool house behind his Panola Street residence since March.
"They shot him for nothing but his car keys. Isn't that insane?" Robinson said.
Robinson said he got a call Thursday between 2:30 and 3 a.m. from an elderly neighbor who told him there was someone lying in the street.
"I guess she saw the police," who apparently had been called by a passing motorist who had spotted the body, he said.
Robinson said he went out, knelt beside his friend and felt for a pulse. He detected none.
Employed by Jacobs Engineering, an international firm, White was a mild-mannered family man with grandchildren and was an enthusiastic portrait photographer, a person who never raised his voice, Robinson said.
Brad Barber, a Bernhard Mechanical Contractors project manager who worked on the Hale Boggs and U.S. District Court buildings White inspected, said the engineer was always in a good mood, very professional and very dedicated to his work.
"You could always count on him," Barber said.
Robinson believes that his friend's tendency to be a good Samaritan -- "He'd give you the shirt off his back" -- may have been what left him dead on the street with tire marks across his white shirt.
Robinson, a retired Army Special Forces officer who grew up in New Orleans, said he has seen lots of dead people but seeing his murdered tenant was a totally different experience: "It's the fact that it's in front of my residence. I've got a wife and two kids. It's just too close to home," he said.
It fell to Robinson on Thursday to break the news over the phone to White's wife at their home in Pineville, where the couple had moved from Colorado after the Jacobs firm posted White to Louisiana.
Robinson said that in the military, he counseled the families of soldiers killed in combat. But telling White's wife that her husband was dead, he said, "was the hardest thing I ever had to do."
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