By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
Updated 9:39 PM ET, Mon April 18, 2016
New Orleans (CNN) It begins with a simple fender bender. Two SUVs speed off. Three blocks away, the drivers exit and argue. Within seconds, shots are fired, and ex-NFLer Will Smith lies dead in the street.
Welcome to New Orleans.
To the world, the Big Easy is a place to cut loose, rich in culture, music and cuisine. A city that lives its motto, "Laissez les bon temps rouler," and draws up to 9.8 million tourists a year.
But peel back that glittery exterior and you find a place that's broken and violent in many ways -- a place where deaths such as that of a favorite New Orleans Saint don't terribly surprise anyone.
"For all its love of life, it also seems to lack a respect for life," said Father Bill Terry of St. Anna's Episcopal Church. Outside his church hangs a white plastic board that lists the names and ages of all those murdered -- an eerie monument to the city's fallen residents.
To be sure, this has been a better year than most so far. The city has had 34 murders, which is actually on track for the lowest murder rate in decades.