Incident Summary:

1/7/1973: Mark Essex, a Black Revolutionary, broke into the Downtown Howard Johnson Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. He proceeded to shoot and kill Robert and Elizabeth Steagall, a White couple staying in the hotel. Essex then doused a telephone book with lighter fluid and set the Steagalls' room on fire. Noticing the commotion, Essex was approached by Frank Schneider and Sherwood Collins, the assistant manager and general manager of the hotel respectively. Essex shot and killed both managers in two separate incidents. Essex then lit more hotel rooms on fire. At this point, Essex began shooting at the policemen and firemen that approached the hotel. He shot and killed Deputy Super Intendent Louis Sirgo, Patrolman Pail Persigo and Patrolman Philip J. Coleman Sr. Twenty others were wounded as well. Finally, the police were able to force Essex to the roof of the building. The incident did not end until Essex was shot and killed by sharpshooters positioned in a military helicopter hovering above the hotel.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:


New Orleans

Location Details:
330 Loyola Ave.

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Type of Attack (more) Facility/Infrastructure Attack
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Business
Name of Entity Howard Johnson Hotel
Specific Description The Downtown Howard Johnson Hotel in New Orleans
Nationality of Target United States
Target Type: Police
Name of Entity New Orleans Police Department
Specific Description Indiscriminate members of the New Orleans Police Department
Nationality of Target United States
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity White people
Specific Description White people at the Howard Johnson Hotel in New Orleans
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Unknown
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Rifle/Shotgun (non-automatic)
Weapon Details
Ruger .44 caliber magnum semi-automatic carbine rifle
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information The incident lasted twelve hours ending around 9:00 PM. When Mark Essex first broke into the hotel, he told a passing African American maid not to worry because he was just going to shoot White people. After he killed Robert and Elizabeth Steagall he dropped a Red, Green, and Black African flag beside them. These were also the colors of the Republic of New Afrika. Essex wrote Black Panther slogans and racist graffiti on the walls of the hotel. The Black Panther Party sent a condolence note to his parents after his death. Essex used the same Ruger .44 caliber magnum in his assault on the New Orleans Police Headquarters one week earlier (197212310001).
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Republic of New Afrika No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 8 Fatalities / 20 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 8
Number of U.S. Fatalities 8
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 1
Total Number of Injured 20
Number of U.S. Injured 20
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
Peter Hernon, "A Terrible Thunder: The Story of the New Orleans Sniper," Garrett County Press, 1978.
Chuch Hustmyre, "Mark Essex," TruTV, 2010. .
Martin Waldron. "New Orleans Sniper Identified; Rifle Linked to Killing of Rookie," New York Times, January 10, 1973.