Police investigate New Orleans shooting that wounded 17
New Orleans — Authorities are still trying to determine what touched off a shootout between two groups of gunmen that wounded 17 people in a crowded New Orleans park, a police spokesman said Monday.
The mayor called on witnesses to come forward, but by late Monday morning nobody had offered either video of the shootout or descriptions or IDs of the gunmen, officer Frank Robertson said.
None of the injuries is believed to be life-threatening. Robertson did not know how many people were hospitalized or any details such as their ages.
Hundreds of people were gathered Sunday evening at Bunny Friend Playground — most for a block party and some for the filming of a music video — when two groups in the crowd opened fire on each other, police said.
Police were on their way to break up a big crowd there when gunfire erupted at the park in the city’s 9th Ward, the police said in a statement.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, speaking at a news conference aired on WWL-TV, called on people who were in the park to come forward with information. Police have also asked people with any video of the shooting to bring it to police.
“At the end of the day, it’s really hard to police against a bunch of guys who decide to pull out guns and settle their disputes with 300 people in between them. That’s just not something you can tolerate in the city,” Landrieu said.
“It’s going to require the people who were in this park to basically say they’ve had enough and they’re not going to put themselves in harm’s way and give us information so that the police can do their job,” the mayor said.
Ten people were taken to the hospital in ambulances, and the others went in private vehicles, police said. Photos of the scene showed emergency workers wheeling some of the wounded on gurneys while other people who appeared to be in pain lay on the ground.
Joseph Jordan and a friend were in a house across the street from the park when they heard gunshots. Later someone called Jordan’s friend and told her that her niece had been shot. The two rushed to the hospital to check on the 14-year-old, who the friend said had been shot three times in the leg.
Outside University Medical Center, Kawandra Hayney said she had been driving two or three blocks from the playground with her daughter when people ran by shooting. Her 14-year-old daughter was hit once in the knee and five times in her backside. Hayney pulled her daughter out of the truck and under it to hide, then moved to a nearby ditch.
“I saw the police coming, and I ran over to them,” she said. She said she later counted seven bullet holes in her truck.
Large stadium lights lit up the park Sunday as police continued to analyze the crime scene. Witnesses told police the gunmen ran off after the shooting was over.
As many as 500 people could have been in the park when the shooting happened, Police Chief Michael Harrison said.
Police spokesman Tyler Gamble said Sunday that neither the block party nor the music video crew had a permit to use the playground named after Henry “Bunny” Friend, who was 18 when he died in 1924.
Harrison told WDSU-TV that the shooting might have been gang-related. Police had been helping with a parade that had been taking place about a block away from the park and were able to quickly get to the park, Harrison told the TV station.
Landrieu said in September that statistics show overall violent crime is down in New Orleans over the past 20 years. He conceded, however, that many in the city don’t feel safe.
While reduced numbers of simple robberies and assaults were big enough to create a 4 percent drop in overall violent crime, the numbers of murders, rapes and armed robberies all were up from the previous year.
Political opponents have criticized Landrieu for allowing the police force to fall below 1,200 officers when officials say it should be around 1,600. That’s the result, he has said, of hard choices made after he inherited an $80 million budget deficit in 2010.