Four people were shot on a packed Bourbon Street, sending people running as revelers partied on Saturday night amid the countdown to Mardi Gras, police and bystanders said. However, the party resumed in force hours later as crowds thronged the iconic French Quarter street following the shooting.
Two males and two females were wounded just before 9:30pm, New Orleans police spokesman Frank Robertson said.
He said one male was in critical condition and had undergone surgery, while the other three were in stable condition. He did not release their ages.
Robertson said detectives were working to identify a suspect and determine a motive. He did not have any other details.
“They’re just piecing together what happened,” he added.
The streets were crawling with bar-hopping throngs taking in the last weekend before Fat Tuesday, the enormous party that engulfs New Orleans each year with parades, gaudy floats and merrymakers tossing trinkets and beads to the crowds.
Bourbon Street street is home to strip clubs, watering holes and second-floor balconies lined by people who throw beads to revelers below each Mardi Gras season. The street often gets so crowded that officers have to control the crowds on horseback.
Patrick Clay, 21, told the Times-Picayune he was standing on the corner of Bourbon Street when suddenly he saw a crowd running and people screaming that there was a shooting.
“Everyone immediately started running and the cops immediately started running toward where people were running from,” Clay said.
“I was with a group of about seven people and at that point we all just kind of grasped hands and made our way through the crowd as soon as possible,” he said.
Afterward, police moved in to investigate. Many revelers said they stayed hunkered down in bars and other establishments until police cleared them to move freely.
WWL-TV reported that police had obtained surveillance video from one of the establishments as part of the investigation.
“We don’t know what happened, but they shut down the entire block for an hour,” said Peter Manabani, an employee at the Rat’s Hole bar.
He said the block reopened shortly before midnight and his establishment was again thronged entering the early hours.
Early yesterday there were no signs a shooting had occurred, as revelers had returned to party mode, packing the block anew amid a heavy police presence.