New Orleans Bayou Classic Weekend is a huge event each year. It spanned four days, and a parade and a football game between Grambling University and Southern University highlighted the gala. At about 1:30 a.m., shots were fired at the Bourbon Street intersection, at Iberville Street, in the French Quarter. One male victim died in the hospital, and nine others were injured. The victims included two women and eight men, between the ages of 20 and 37.
— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) November 27, 2016
The victim who was killed has been identified as Demontris Toliver, a 25-year-old tattoo artist who lived in worked in Baton Rouge but was in town to celebrate his birthday. He was born in California but raised in New Orleans. According to the Times-Picayune, Toliver was shot shortly after he and his fiancee left their Canal Street hotel.
Per Toliver’s brother, Joshua Davis, Toliver was to meet Davis at a club on Bourbon Street. Instead, the brother received a text from the fiancee asking that he call her, which is when he learned that his brother had been shot.
“I dropped everything and ran down there. It was too late.”
— Drew Karedes (@DrewKaredesKHOU) November 27, 2016
Toliver had been taken away in an ambulance and later died from his wounds. He held his neck and said, “It hurts,” as paramedics arrived on the scene. He, like others, was attempting to run away from the gunshots. Four of the nine survivors remain hospitalized. Tolliver was an innocent bystander who didn’t know the two gunmen, noted the New Orleans Advocate. The shooters were not from New Orleans and an argument precipitated the gunfire.
The area where the shootings occurred is a crowded one, located near the Superdome. Tourists frequent the location, and it was filled with people as the game had ended just six hours prior.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison commented on the tragedy, per CNN.
“This was not the place or time to bring firearms to the Bayou Classic or any event. This is not the place where something like this should happen.”
— ABC News (@ABC) November 27, 2016
Because it was a large event, dozens of police officers were nearby and responded to the call. CNN reported that officers heard shots and immediately headed toward the scene.
“Shots rang out, we responded.”
Two men were arrested at the scene for illegal possession of firearms. One was a victim and was treated for injuries. It was unclear if the other man was involved with the incident, but he was arrested for possession of a firearm, reported NBC.
Eight other arrests were made within a 24-hour period. Harrison stated that it had been made clear that the Bayou Classic event was not the place to bring guns. He added that as of yet, authorities have no idea as to why the shootings occurred, noted USA Today.
“We do not have the information about what precipitated the shooting right now, other than shots were fired… We’ve made a strong message that this was not the place or the time to bring firearms to the French Quarter during the Bayou Classic event or any event… We’re going to pursue this to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ronnie Buendia, who works at a parking garage near the event heard four shots and then witnessed the confusion.
“Everybody was running into the garage trying to get away.”
Glean Williams, a man who was selling hats about a block from the shooting, said people ran into doorways and hotels and hid behind trees that were decorated with Christmas lights, on Canal Street. Williams commented on the chaos, per Fox News.
“It was panic. Everybody started running. People getting run over, stepped on, knocked over.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the incident was a tragic ending to a beautiful weekend.
Last updated at 6:05 p.m., EST.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]