16 hospitalized in New Orleans playground shooting
At least 16 people were hospitalized in New Orleans Sunday evening, following a shooting during a party at a city park, authorities said.
The victims were all in stable condition.
The shooting broke out at Bunny Friend Park in the Upper Ninth Ward where about 500 people were gathered at the playground for the impromptu shooting of a music video, officials said. According to officials, a gun battle took place at the site.
“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 disputes with 300 people between them,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a press conference later that evening.
The shooting followed a second line parade by the Nine Times Social & Pleasure Club that had happened earlier a block or two from the shooting scene, Landrieu said.
Witnesses told WWL-TV that at least two gunmen fired into the crowd. Officials are still searching for the suspects.
City police officers had been monitoring the second line, but witnesses said they were beginning to disperse as the after-party kept going, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. As soon as gunshots were heard, witnesses said, officers were on the scene immediately.
Police spokesman Tyler Gamble told The Associated Press that police were on their way to break up the crowd when gunfire erupted. He said there were two groups at the park — those who had walked there in the parade and those watching or participating in the video. He said it was being made without a permit.
The shooting’s aftermath was “chaotic,” The Times-Picayune reported, with several people lying around the park’s main building and hats and possessions scattered around the playground.
Several ambulances were reported at the scene, which was cordoned off by police.
According to FrenchQuarter.com, second line parades are “the descendants of the New Orleans’ famous jazz funerals and, apart from a casket, mourners and a cemetery visit, they carry many of the same traditions with them as they march down the streets.” There are dozens of second line parades scheduled throughout the year and throughout the city, usually on Sunday afternoons, according to the website. They range in size, level of organization and traditions.
Each parade includes a brass band and street dancing by members wearing “brightly colored suits, sashes, hats and bonnets, parasols and banners,” the website said.
Landrieu last January said the number of murders in New Orleans last year reached a 43-year low at 150, the lowest since 1971. City officials said the downward trend represented the third consecutive year in which murders had declined. They said New Orleans in 2014 had its lowest murder rate in over a decade, with 39.6 victims per 100,000 people.
The Times-Picayune reported that as of Sunday the city’s 2015 murder rate stood at 138. The latest was the fatal shooting of a 37-year-old man on Nov. 14.