Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS-- Neighbors are searching for answers in the Lower Ninth Ward, following Sunday night's shooting of seven people in the 5400 block of Burgundy Street.

Monday, they gathered to mourn the loss of two friends and prayed for the mother and her two children who were critically injured in the crossfire.

'Heavenly Father teach our children, Heavenly Father, to love on one another,' one woman prayed during a brief vigil in front of the house where the drive-by shooting happened.

Kernesha Kennedy said shots rang out just as family members gathered for her cousin's 28th birthday party.

'We were just getting ready for the party and you know the car just pulled up and just started shooting everywhere,' she said. 'Just started shooting crazy, shooting everybody. They just was shooting everybody.'

By the time the shooting stopped, 33-year-old Terrance McBride and 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson were dead. Five others were injured, including a young mother and her two children, ages two and four.

'Everybody was on the ground,' said Kennedy. 'I just went from body to body, trying to help everybody. I just was trying to help everybody.'

Neighbors suspect drugs may be to blame for the shooting.

'It's heartbreaking to see these kids get shot like that, behind some grownups, you know, whatever they doing in the streets,' said one neighbor who did not want to be identified.

'People getting shot behind what other people are doing, that's wrong,' said another neighbor who said his name is Miles. 'When I was growing up and you mad at somebody, you would go with the hands, they would wind up being best friends, but now it's gotten worse and worse.'

Councilman James Gray, who represents the Lower Ninth Ward, spent some time talking to families on Burgundy. He said New Orleans needs to do more to address the root causes of violent crime.

'We have to have more programs for kids,' he said. 'We have to do a better job in the schools. I just came from the Baptist Ministries and a preacher told me and he's probably right, until we do a better job at church, we're not going to solve this problem.'

Church leaders at the nearby All Souls Episcopal Church and Community Center say while the Lower 9th Ward community is deeply hurting, the circumstances that gave rise to this level of violence, as terrible as they may seem, are not hopeless.

'We can make a difference,' said Pastor Edward Thompson. 'We can turn it around. It's human beings that are doing it. Those human beings are reachable.'

'The thing I think about often is how do we empower young black males to be more engaged in society,' said All Souls Program Director Happy Johnson. 'How do we creatively and uniquely harness the talent and gifts that they have to make them feel whole. It's a sad situation, but we can't give up. We have to stay engaged in the fight to save young black males.'

If you have any information that can help investigators, call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111. The reward in the case now stands at $5000.

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