A joyous New Orleans tradition, the second-line parade, was marred on Mother’s Day when gunmen randomly opened fire on a crowd of several hundred revelers, injuring at least 19 people, including two children, according to police.
While most of the injuries weren’t life-threatening, a man and a woman were reported to be in surgery last night. The shooting occurred in the 7th Ward, about a mile and a half from the heart of the French Quarter and on the edges of the Treme neighborhood dramatized in the fictional HBO series “Treme.”
New Orleans Police Department spokeswoman Remi Braden said many of the victims were grazed, some by bullets that ricocheted.
“At this point, there are no fatalities, and most of the wounds are not life-threatening,” she told the New Orleans Times Picayune by email.
“But all medical conditions are not known at this time as victims were rushed to nearby hospitals,” Braden continued. “Detectives are conducting interviews, retrieving any surveillance video in the area and, of course, collecting all evidence. This is an extremely unusual occurrence, and we’re confident that we will make swift arrests.”
Police said 10 adult men, seven adult women, a 10-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were struck by bullets. The 10-year-olds had graze wounds to the body and were in good condition.
Shannon Roberts, 32, was waiting in the Interim LSU Hospital in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon with other crying, fearful and angry family members. She said a 21-year-old nephew was shot in the arm and stomach, a 37-year-old niece was shot in the arm, and a 39-year-old cousin was shot in the back.
“All innocent bystanders got hit,” Roberts told the Times Picayune. “When I got the call saying they were shot, I wasn’t thinking at all, I was just shivering and crying… just hoping they be all right.
“The city needs to stop the violence. It’s hurting our families,” Roberts continued.
She said the shooters should turn themselves in. “Mothers should not have to be crying any day no less Mother Day.”
In addition to Crimestoppers doubling its standard $2,500 reward to $5,000 for information about the crime, the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau has added $5,000, bringing the total to $10,000.
“These kinds of incidents will not go unanswered,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “Somebody knows something. The way to stop this violence is for you all to help.”
“Obviously, this is an unusual circumstance,” said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas. “We have second lines that occur in this city virtually every week at this time of the year.”
Serpas added, “We can tell you without a doubt that we will find these guys. We will bring them into custody and make them pay for the crimes they committed today.”
The second line was organized by the Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club, which has held it on Mother’s Day since 2001, according to Edward Buckner, the club’s president.
Buckner said the parade was started “to celebrate the women of America in New Orleans for the hard time that they have taking care of children, taking care of everyone.”
“I can’t tell you what the gunmen looked like. I was busy parading. So, you know, I didn’t see it coming,” Buckner said. “Everyone was just busy having a good time.
“My feelings are hurt for the victims, and the club sends our sympathies and we hope that each of the families know that we wish them a speedy recovery,” Buckner said. “We hope that the people who were shot don’t stop being fans of the Big 7, because it wasn’t anything that they did or the club did, it was just a random act of violence.
“It’s not because of the associated pleasure clubs that this type of terrorist act happens. That’s not the type of crowd that follow us. We have people as old as 70, and as young as 5.”