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Man arrested for wielding machine gun in Canal St shootout released next day

Despite his involvement in a 2010 killing and nearly a decade in prison, Shawn Breaux Jr. was released on bond over the weekend

NEW ORLEANS — Eleven years ago, Shawn Breaux Jr. was one of six suspects booked in a high-profile murder at Canal and Dauphine Streets. Popular Pat O'Brien's bartender Earl Wheeler was gunned down after a petty argument turned deadly.

Friday night, exactly one block away from the 2010 shooting, Breaux was the lone person arrested in a shootout that left three people injured, at Canal and Carondelet.

Despite his involvement in the Wheeler killing and nearly a decade in prison, Breaux was released on bond over the weekend after being booked with being a felon with a firearm, illegal possession of a stolen gun, illegal possession of a machine gun and aggravated flight from an officer.

Court records show that Breaux, 29, was booked Saturday and released Sunday after posting bond to cover his $75,000 bail.

Criminal justice activist Nadra Enzi, also known as “Captain Black,” questioned the need for such quick jail release in such a fresh violent crime with multiple perpetrators still at-large and police still piecing together the facts.

A business security camera that captured a portion of Friday’s shootout starts normal Friday night foot and vehicle traffic at about 9 p.m., followed by a sudden eruption of gunfire and people running for cover.

“At day's end, is anything worth killing somebody over?” Enzi asked. “We've had too many deaths and, I'm just going to be honest, too much enabling.”

Court records from the Wheeler murder case show that Breaux served most of a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to attempted murder in the bartender's killing. 

Enzi questions if recent justice system reforms, such as low bail and jail releases with few conditions, are taking into account the city’s continuing bloodshed.

For example, one of two victims killed in a separate quadruple shooting Wednesday in the Irish Channel was out on bail awaiting trial for attempted murder. Detectives are now looking at retaliation as a possible motive in that case.

“I don't support mass incarceration. But I also don't support mass victimization,” Enzi said.

Enzi said he supports more robust pre-trial services — or at least a cooling off period before release on bail.

“We have got to strike a balance, again, between reality and ideology,” he said. “Ideology is fine, but when people are getting hurt, then you need to start recognizing the reality of your situation.”

New Orleans police said Monday that at least three people were armed in Friday’s shootout, but no additional arrests have been made. The department said detectives are still investigating how many of the guns were actually fired.

The defense attorney representing Breaux could not be reached for comment Monday. Breaux is due back in court Dec. 8.