POLICE VOW TO SOLVE SHOOTINGS OF 19 IN NEW ORLEANS

KEVIN McGILL, Associated Press

May 13, 2013

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police hope a $10,000 reward and blurry surveillance camera images will lead to arrests in a
Mother’s Day shooting that wounded 19 people and showed again how far the city has to go to shake a persistent culture of violence that belies the city’s festive image.

Video released early Monday shows the crowd suddenly scattering in all directions, with some falling to the ground after the shooting on Sunday. They appear to be running from a man in a white T-shirt and dark pants who turns and runs out of the picture.

A medical student who witnessed the shooting said the gunman appeared to be firing in a controlled manner, but it wasn’t clear if
he was trying to hit specific people. 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,” Pytell said Monday.

“He was obviously pointing in a specific direction he wasn’t swinging the gun wildly,” Pytell said.

Three people remained in critical condition Monday. Authorities said it appeared that nobody suffered life-threatening wounds and most had been discharged from the hospital. Ten men, seven women and two 10-year-old children were wounded. The children suffered only graze wounds.

Pytell said he helped a woman with a serious arm fracture — he wasn’t sure if it was caused by a bullet or a fall — and others including a man who was bleeding seriously from an apparent bullet wound.

Police believe more than one gun was fired in the burst of Sunday afternoon violence — the latest to flare up around a celebration this year — and they have vowed to swiftly track down those responsible. Detectives were conducting interviews, collecting any surveillance video they could find and gathering evidence from the scene. Cellphone video taken in the aftermath of the shooting shows victims lying on the ground, blood on the pavement and others bending over to comfort them.

It’s not the first time gunfire has shattered a festive mood in the city this year. Five people were wounded in January after a
Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, and four were wounded in a shooting in the French Quarter in the days leading up to Mardi
Gras. Two teens were arrested in connection with the MLK shootings; three men were arrested and charged in the Mardi Gras shootings.

Mary Beth Romig, a spokeswoman for the FBI in New Orleans, characterized the shooting as street violence.

The neighborhood where the shooting happened is a mix of low-income and middle-class row houses, some boarded up. As of last year, the 7th Ward’s population was about 60 percent of its pre-Hurricane Katrina level.
The crime scene was about 1.5 miles (2.41 kilometers) from the heart of the French Quarter and near the Treme neighborhood, which has been the centerpiece for the HBO TV series “Treme.”

Sunday’s violence comes at a time when the city is struggling to pay for tens of millions of dollars required under federal consent decrees to reform the police department and the city jail. The agreement to reform the police department came after a scathing Justice Department report in 2011 said the city’s officers have often used deadly force without justification, made unconstitutional arrests and engaged in racial profiling. A series of criminal investigations focused on a string of police shootings in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

PH CONSULATE: NO FILIPINOS HURT

The Philippine Consulate General in Chicago immediately checked with members of the Filipino Community in New Orleans to determine if any of the 10,243 Filipinos there were among the wounded.

On Monday afternoon, Consul General Leo Herrera confirmed that no Filipinos were hurt.

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