The New Orleans shooting of 19 at a parade in the 7th Ward has NOPD playing defense again. The Mother's Day shooting spree at the second line parade came only days after a 51-count racketeering indictment in the wake of last year's bystander killing of 5-year-old Briana Allen.
The second line event held Sunday by the Original Big 7 was more like a street party that covered about three blocks than what a tourist might picture as a traditional Mardi Gras style parade. A rough estimate from popular local news station WWL puts the crowd at around 400.
The two or three shooters who opened fire on the crowd brought back bad memories of last year's purposeless party shooting in Central City, which was already fresh in locals' minds because of the new arrests Thursday.
Described as the largest street gang indictment in New Orleans history, the round-up included three members of the 7th Ward gang Young Mafia Fellaz. Accused member Tyron "T-Man" Harden, 19, was arrested a month ago and stands accused of killing Allen with a stray bullet from an AK-47.
Harden allegedly was trying to hit someone from a rival gang during the bold shooting in Central City where the 5-year-old was attending a birthday party for another child. "I killed a whole baby!" Harden later bragged to friends, according to an unnamed witness.
Nonetheless, it took NOPD almost an entire year to make a good enough case against Harden to arrest him.
The May 9 sweep included arrests mostly of 110ers but also Young Mafia Fellaz and members of three other gangs. It was meant to make the public feel safer after a rash of public shootings on important event days like New Year's, Halloween, and even Mardi Gras.
But the new parade shooting of 19 may leave locals grumbling that NOPD has missed again.
Most injuries were minor. There was a heavy police presence at the second line event, with officers scattered through the crowd. Nonetheless, according to reports, at least one and possibly two 10-year-old children were hurt in the fire.
A reporter for an alternative New Orleans entertainment weekly, Gambit Weekly, was also hurt. Deborah Cotton, also known as Big Red Cotton, is in stable condition as she recovers from surgery.
At the time of writing, the manhunt is still on. Despite the heavy police presence, the shooters escaped. NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas has vowed for a quick arrest, but only time will tell if he can keep the promise.
"I can't tell you what the gunmen looked like. I was busy parading," one terse second line attendee told a New Orleans reporter.
It's tough to encourage people to talk in a climate where potential witnesses assume that the police won't protect them or their families from gang retaliation.
However, one shooter is clearly captured on surveillance video provided by the New Orleans Police Department and posted online by WWL-TV.
There's a $10,000 reward for information. Call Crimestoppers at 822-1111 if you can help.
Most locals are praying for a swift arrest for whoever committed the apparently motiveless New Orleans shooting of 19 at a second line parade meant to honor mothers.
[AK-47 photo by mashurov via Shutterstock]