NEW ORLEANS — Two men exchanged gunfire early Sunday on this city’s always-crowded Bourbon Street in the celebrated French Quarter, and nine people were shot in the crossfire, including two who were critically wounded, police said.
Images captured by a surveillance camera above a bar showed people running down the famous street amid the chaos of the shooting at 2:45 a.m., reported NOLA.com, the online version of the Times-Picayune. Police and other emergency workers responded immediately.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said six victims were hospitalized in stable condition. The ninth victim’s condition was not available. Some of the victims were tourists. Their names have not been released.
The victims were shot two blocks from historic Jackson Square and just around the corner from the popular Pat O’Brien’s piano bar. Preservation Hall, a music venue dedicated to preserving New Orleans jazz, is also nearby.
Serpas said at a news conference in the French Quarter that the victims were shot “by two cowardly young men trying to hurt each other.”
“What happened was two young men got angry at each other and shot at each other,” he said.
Bourbon Street is a nightly swirl of bright neon and tourists, and offers a blend of jazz joints, strip clubs, bars and restaurants.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) pledged a swift response from law enforcement.
“Our No. 1 priority is to keep New Orleans safe,” he said in a statement. “These kinds of incidents will not go unanswered. . . . I am confident that between video evidence and eyewitness accounts, we will bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The police have not determined whether the shootings were gang-related, Serpas said. He called on residents, businesses and witnesses who may have video footage, including from surveillance cameras, to contact the police.
It was the third major shooting on Bourbon Street in the past three years.
On March 1, the Saturday before Mardi Gras, four people were treated at a hospital after a shooting. During Halloween celebrations in 2011, one person was killed and seven others were injured after gunmen opened fire on each other.
Justin Sigalos of Chicago was visiting New Orleans with friends over the weekend. Standing near the site of the shootings, where blood was still visible on the sidewalk, he said the number of people struck by bullets was surprising.
“That’s a lot of people,” he said. “Maybe one person getting shot, I could understand. But nine?”
Andrew and Timothy Wiese, brothers from Daphne, Ala., near Mobile, were walking down Bourbon Street on Sunday with cocktails in their hands. They said they had been on Bourbon Street until a little after midnight.
“We might be cutting tonight a little shorter,” Timothy Wiese said.
“Late like that, typically bad things happen,” his brother added.