NEW ORLEANS – Three people are dead, and another five people were hurt in separate shootings across New Orleans on Mardi Gras.
According to the New Orleans Police Department, the first two shootings happened near St. Charles Avenue parade routes. In both instances, police say a fight or argument broke out prior to the gunfire.
The first shooting happened around 3:15 p.m. near the intersection of Union Street and Carondelet Streets. One teen was shot in the head and is in critical condition. Another teen was shot in the leg and is in stable condition.Police said the victims were 15 and 16 years old.
Witnesses say 10-12 people got into an argument before gunshots erupted. Two witnesses said they heard five or six shots.
“It was pretty intense to say the lease,” said one witness who declined to give his name. “It’s just real unfortunate it happened, especially during such a fun time.”
Another witness, who was visiting the city for Carnival season, said the shooting appeared to be among a group of young people.
"I'm kind of scared," said Nawwal Smith, who said his family told him to be safe while he was in New Orleans. "Now we know exactly what they meant."
The NOPD later released a photo of a man they believe is responsible for the shooting.
The second shooting happened Uptown near the intersection of St. Charles Avenue and Second Street. One man was rushed to the hospital where he later died.
NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said there were reports that citizens in the area tried to break up the fight before shots rang out. As people scattered from the scene, one officer chased a suspect described as having a light complexion and a pink-colored shirt. However, the officer lost the suspect in the chase.
Harrison said one person involved in the fight was taken into custody. Officers are still searching for the other suspect who fled the scene.
In both instances, Mardi Gras parades along the routes were stopped but later resumed after police secured the scene.
Harrison described both shootings as "very disappointing" and "very frustrating" as they have been working hard all day to keep the parade routes safe.
Hours later, gunshots rang out in the Lower Ninth Ward, leaving two people dead and injuring another three people.
Police said the third shooting happened around 8:30 p.m. in the 5400 block of Andry Street. The five victims were reportedly in a car in the area when “unknown suspects” started shooting at their vehicle.
The car drove to the 5400 block of St. Claude Avenue where officers later found a man with a gunshot wounds inside. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. A second man was transported to the hospital where he later died.
A neighbor, who did not want to be identified by Eyewitness News, said she knew one of the victims who died.
"We got a phone call that they had a shooting at St. Claude and Lizardi so I came over here and then I found out it was one of my friend's son," she said. "The guns got to stop. It really has to stop.”
While officers were investigating the scene, three other people arrived at a hospital with gunshot wounds.
Police are still trying to determine a motive for the third shooting.
Anyone with information about any of the shootings is asked to contact the New Orleans Police Department at 504-658-5300. Residents can also anonymously by calling Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.