NEW ORLEANS — Dozens of police officers were on the scene of a mass shooting when gunfire lit up Canal Street early Sunday morning and wounded 10 people.
It happened around 3:30 a.m. in the 700 block of Canal Street during a busy Bayou Classic weekend. New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said the streets were so crowded at the time of the shooting, patrolling officers couldn’t see who had the gun.
“We had officers right there within that very block that actually thought they were being fired upon and took a position to respond to this,” Ferguson said.
No officers were hit, but 10 others were. The victims were being treated at University Medical Center and Tulane Medical Center, with two people listed in critical condition Monday morning. One of those victims was shot in the chest and the other in the torso.
Police originally reported that 10 people were shot, then later increased that number after a reported eleventh victim arrived at the hospital as a walk-in that morning. However, officials revised the number back to 10 on Sunday afternoon.
What happened leading up the gunfire was still unclear Sunday. One person was detained and questioned by police but was not named as a suspect.
“This is still in the preliminary stages of the investigation. We do not know if this individual had any involvement in this incident as of right now,” Ferguson said.
NOPD officials announced later in the day a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, along with a statement from Ferguson which said, in part:
“What happened in our city overnight was a cowardly and senseless act that we cannot and will not tolerate."
“For a fourth straight year, New Orleans continues to see significant reductions in violent crime. Mayor Cantrell, myself and all of City leadership remain steadfast and committed to continuing that trend. We will not let the acts of a few deter us."
There have been six shootings in New Orleans with 10 or more victims since 2013.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell addressed the most recent one in two separate statements on Sunday morning and Monday afternoon, saying in part her administration would not “…allow incidents like this to derail the progress we have made, or to further disrupt our community.”
“The shootings on Canal Street early this morning were an ugly disruption of an otherwise beautiful holiday weekend. We will do everything we can to wrap the victims and their families in our love and support, and to bring the criminals responsible to justice,” Cantrell said.
The mayor praised the NOPD officers who responded to the attack.
“I applaud our public safety team for their instant and efficient response — particularly our NOPD officers who were on the scene within seconds. This tragedy will not define us, and it will not deter us from moving our City forward and keeping our people safe,” she said.
Cantrell also said: “When people resort to gun violence to resolve problems, it never creates solutions — only innocent victims and trauma.”
Councilmember Kristin Palmer, who represents the French Quarter, also provided a statement Sunday condemning the shooting and applauding first responders.
"This is a terrible event on a weekend meant to celebrate the traditions of two wonderful Louisiana Institutions. I hope for a speedy recovery for the victims and will work closely with the administration to provide any support necessary to them and their families,” Palmer said.
“I also commend the officers who responded immediately to the scene and call on anyone with information on the event or perpetrators come forward immediately to assist in the investigation. Our city and police department have made unprecedented strides in combating violent crime, and holding these individual(s) accountable is critical to continuing that progress."
Police were gathering surveillance video and other evidence in the area that they hoped would lead to answers, and arrests.
On Monday afternoon, Cantrell released another statement on the shooting investigation and public safety in New Orleans.
Read the full statement below:
“The outbreak of gun violence early this Sunday was an ugly aberration and a tragedy for the innocent victims impacted, but it was also a stark reminder of the preparedness and the responsiveness of our public safety teams,” said Cantrell. “Our NOPD officers worked seamlessly with partners from the Louisiana State Police, the FBI, the DEA and the ATF to respond immediately and effectively. Our close collaboration with local, state and federal agencies is a critical asset in such a crisis, and we are grateful for their friendship and ready assistance.
“As we look ahead to a busy winter season full of major sporting events welcoming visitors from across the world, and to a bright future as a destination city for sports, entertainment and tourism — we stand proudly behind the men and women of our law enforcement agencies, and we stand together with a strong network of partners all committed to keeping New Orleans safe.
“In the last two days, my fellow elected leaders on every level have reached out to express their support and commitment — including Gov. John Bel Edwards, and Senator John Kennedy. Every one of us is dedicated to putting every available resource behind protecting this City, her people and our visitors. We will continue to build on the tremendous success the NOPD and our partners have achieved in reducing gun violence and safeguarding our major events. We stand ready for a safe and successful season ahead, and we will continue to prove every day that no force in the world can match the NOPD and our partner agencies when it comes to making events in our City — from big nights at the Superdome to second lines in our neighborhoods — safe and successful.”
A reward of up to $10,000 is available for information leading to an arrest in this investigation. Anyone with tips should call Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans at 504-822-1111 or toll-free at 1-877-903-STOP.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story reported there were 11 victims, per the NOPD. However, the NOPD revised that number to 10 victims, which is now reflected in the article.