HARVEY, La. -- A bar fight six weeks ago led to gunfire Monday morning in Harvey, sending five people to the hospital, including three young children, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.
There were seven people shot at the Lapalco Apartments in the 2300 block of Lapalco Boulevard. The bullets injured five of them: two women and three children -- the oldest age three -- who were sleeping in the living room.
"When any time someone shoots three kids under 3 and two adult females with an AK-47," Normand said, "that's about as d--- significant as it gets in my view. And the fact of the matter is, these are cold blooded killers."
Normand said a "verbal argument" at a New Orleans East bar six weeks ago ultimately led to the shooting Monday. He said one of the people involved in the altercation had some kind of relation to the people inside the apartment.
There was chaos at dawn in Central City as Jefferson Parish deputies and New Orleans police chased down the four suspects. They had been spotted fleeing the shooting scene at an apartment in Harvey by deputies who happened to be in the area when the gunfire occurred.
"After hearing the gunshots, they hear the screeching tires," said Col. John Fortunato, a spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. "They see this vehicle, this Honda Accord, come flying out of the parking lot."
While some deputies chased the fleeing vehicle, others rushed to the Lapalco Apartments, finding one apartment sprayed with bullets from an automatic weapon.
The occupants were afraid to let deputies in, because the suspects had posed as police to get inside.
"They announced they're the police," Fortunato said. "Well, the moment she opens the door, they lay out a barrage of gunfire into this apartment."
Neighbors were shocked by the violence against toddlers.
"It is just awful," Elnora said. "I don't have the words to explain myself. Looking at those kids shot up, it's awful."
Deputies chased the fleeing vehicle down the Westbank Expressway and across the Crescent City Connection, and nearly to the Earhart Boulevard Exit when the car hit the railing and stalled, so they ran.
"They were shedding clothes," Fortunato said. "We found two weapons near the clothes that they were shedding as they were running from the officers. We also found a weapon inside of the vehicle."
Deputies say the subjects abandoned their car on the Pontchartrain Expressway and ran down the exit ramp. They say one of the suspects jumped over the side, and broke his leg when he landed, and was taken to the hospital. But the others ran two blocks over to the corner of Erato and South Robertson, with deputies right behind them.
In moments, the three suspects were in custody, found hiding in an overgrown lot. A police dog found them lying together in the brush, the three piled on top of each other.
"Thankfully and luckily we were in the right place at the right time," Fortunato said.