NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police and federal authorities were searching early Tuesday for a young man who is suspected of opening fire at a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans, wounding 19.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas identified the suspect late Monday as Akein Scott, 19, of New Orleans. Referring to blurry surveillance camera images of the mass shooting, Serpas said police have “multiple identifications of Akein Scott as the shooter” seen in the film.
Serpas said officers would be searching all night and into Tuesday for Scott, whom he called “no stranger to the criminal justice system.” He urged the teen, who has previous arrests on firearms and drug charges, to give himself up.
“We would like to remind the community and Akein Scott that the time has come for him to turn himself in,” Serpas said at a news conference outside police headquarters.
A photo of Scott hung from a podium in front of the police chief. “We know more about you than you think we know,” he said.
Serpas said it was too early to say whether he was the only shooter.
The mass shooting showed again how far the city has to go to shake a persistent culture of violence that belies the city’s festive image. Earlier, police announced a $10,000 reward and released the surveillance camera images, which led to several tips from the community.
“The people today chose to be on the side of the young innocent children who were shot and not on the side of a coward who shot into the crowd,” Serpas said.
The superintendent said SWAT team members and U.S. marshals served a searched warrant at one location looking for Scott, but didn’t locate him.
Angry residents said gun violence — which has flared at two other city celebrations this year — goes hand-in-hand with the city’s other deeply rooted problems such as poverty and urban blight. The investigators tasked with solving Sunday’s shooting work within an agency that’s had its own troubles rebounding from years of corruption while trying to halt violent crime.
“The old people are scared to walk the streets. The children can’t even play outside,” Ronald Lewis, 61, said Monday as he sat on the front stoop of his house, about a half-block from the shooting site. His window sill has a hole from a bullet that hit it last year. Across the street sits a house marked by bullets he said were fired two weeks ago.
“The youngsters are doing all this,” said Jones, who was away from home when the latest shooting broke out.
Video released early Monday shows a crowd gathered for a parade suddenly scattering in all directions, with some falling to the ground. They appear to be running from a man in a white T-shirt and dark pants who turns and runs out of the picture. Two children were among those wounded.
Police were working to determine whether there was more than one gunman, though they initially said three people were spotted fleeing from the scene. Whoever was responsible escaped despite the presence of officers who were interspersed through the crowd as part of routine precautions for such an event.
A police news release says Scott has previously been arrested for illegal carrying of a weapon, illegal possession of a stolen firearm, resisting an officer, contraband to jail, illegal carrying of a weapon while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of heroin.
It was not immediately clear whether Scott, who was arrested this past March, had been convicted on any of those charges.
Serpas said ballistic evidence gathered at the scene was giving them “very good leads to work on.”
Witness Jarrat Pytell said he was walking with friends near the parade route when the crowd suddenly began to break up.
“I saw the guy on the corner, his arm extended, firing into the crowd,” said Pytell, a medical student.