NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two armed individuals walked up to a crowd gathered Saturday evening outside a strip mall in New Orleans and opened fire, killing three people and wounding seven more, the police chief said.
NOLA.com reports that the shooting is likely gang-related and that the shooters targeted a specific victim.
A law enforcement source told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune that more than one officer with direct knowledge of the investigation said Jeremiah Lee was the intended target of the shooting. Lee was affiliated with Central City gang 3NG, the source said, and went by the name “Zippa.”
The New Orleans Advocate, citing unnamed sources, reported earlier Sunday the shooters’ intended target was Lee and that Lee was affiliated with 3NG. The name 3NG refers to Third and Galvez streets, where the group operated in Central City’s Hoffman Triangle neighborhood.
The shooting happened on a busy thoroughfare about 3 miles (4.83 kilometers) from the French Quarter, police said.
Police chief Michael Harrison, speaking to reporters late Saturday in televised comments, said the two suspects believed to be wearing hoodies had a rifle and a handgun. He said they appeared to have fired indiscriminately into the crowd, striking ten people. Before fleeing they took time to stand over one person.
“We believe that they actually stood over one of the individuals and fired multiple rounds and then after that fled,” he said.
Police responding to the shooting found three victims – two men and one woman – who were pronounced dead at the scene. Seven other victims – five men and two women – were taken to two separate hospitals. Four of them were driven in private vehicles, and three were transported by ambulance.
Harrison said one underwent surgery and was in critical condition; the other six were in various conditions but none were considered life-threatening.
Harrison spoke with family members and friends at the scene of the “volatile and tense situation.” He called on people to come forward and help police find the killers and also asked people not to take matters into their own hands.
“This was an extremely tragic incident. A lot of people were out here tonight. A lot of people, we know, saw what happened, heard what happened. And we need more than anything for people to come forward to help the NOPD right now solve this case,” Harrison said.
Lawrence Russo was buying a scratch-off ticket at nearby gas station when he heard what he at first thought were firecrackers before he realized they were gunshots. He told NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune that he heard a total of 13 to 16 shots fired.
“They never stop killing each other,” he said, shaking his head as he spoke.
Near the scene of the shooting, beyond the police tape, people could be seen crying and hugging one another in comfort.
The New Orleans Advocate (https://bit.ly/2AlrJXt ) reported that a woman stood behind the crime scene tape shouting, “Pick my brother up,” as two bodies lay uncovered. NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reported two men were trying to console two sobbing women as one of the women shouted: “That’s my baby.”
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement: “There is no place in New Orleans for this kind of violence. I speak for everyone in our City when I say we are disgusted, we are infuriated, & we have had more than enough. Three more lives — gone. It has to end. It’s unacceptable anywhere.”
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