At approximately 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, a man opened fire on a crowd gathered on Bourbon Street which is in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter. The multiple shooting took place in the 700 block of the very popular tourist destination just around the corner from Pat O’Brien’s bar. According to New Orleans police officer Frank Robertson, the shooting resulted in at least nine injured. WWL-TV of New Orleans has reported that seven of these victims are at local hospitals in stable condition, one is in critical condition and the status of one victim is unknown. Surveillance cameras reveal that when the shooting began, people ran in fear from the scene and victims fell to the ground.
Witnesses to the Bourbon Street shooting describe the as of yet unidentified shooter as very angry with another man, with whom he exchanged heated words. The shooter then appeared to deliberately target the other man, fired his weapon at him, then turned, and began indiscriminately shooting into the French Quarter crowd, by some accounts emptying his gun.
The aftermath of the shooting was recorded by the New Orleans Police Department radio dispatch. Considered an empirical source of detailed information about criminal activity, in this particular case the dispatch recording alerted police that there had in fact been nine victims, rather than the seven that was originally reported. The recording also provides very specific details about the potential injuries sustained by victims including descriptions of a person taking a shot to the leg, one with a shot to the side another with a shot to the ankle and one woman who apparently was shot in the face.
The over 12 minute dispatch recording also details how police attempted to track the suspect through the streets of the French Quarter by identifying clothing and appearance including ethnicity and location. Parking attendants were engaged by police to prevent vehicles from leaving parking areas. Sightings of the suspect were listed in different areas including alerts that he was headed towards the aquarium, was in the lobby of a hotel, in another area by Jackson Square and over by the St. Louis Cathedral. Descriptions of his appearance and clothing varied and as the hunt continued with new reports of injuries, the intensity of the concern in the officer reports increased exponentially.
Bourbon Street is famous for its bars and its open carry policy, which allows people to consume alcohol freely in the street. The numerous festivals including the annual Mardi Gras festival and the prevalence of strip clubs is also a huge draw to the area. Unfortunately, the area has also been prone to violence and this is by no means the first incident that involved a multiple shooting – in fact, there have been three such major shootings in the last three years.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, in response to the early morning shooting event on Bourbon Street has stated that his “number one priority is to keep New Orleans safe.” He believes that between video evidence and eyewitness accounts from the crowd gathered in the French Quarter, the New Orleans police will be successful in apprehending the shooting suspect.
By Alana Marie Burke