Two people were killed in a shooting during a popular parade in New Orleans, police said on Friday, in an event shaking the city as it prepares for additional revelry culminating in Mardi Gras on Tuesday.
The shooting comes as officials have stepped up efforts to fight violent crime in the city. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu commended the police department for acting swiftly to apprehend the suspect, identified as John Hicks, 19.
“It’s a horrific thing,” Landrieu told a news conference on Friday. “We’ve seen this iteration of violence before, where young men get in an argument over something that’s seemingly not worth it.”
New Orleans has long been plagued by a murder rate among the highest in the United States, though the number of killings dropped sharply in 2013 and moderately in 2014 to a total of 150, according to city figures.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison told reporters a fight broke out during the parade on Thursday at about 10 p.m. and that one person opened fire.
One of the victims, 21-year-old Peter Dabney, died from a gunshot to the chest shortly after being rushed to a hospital. The second victim, a 22-year-old man, was shot in the neck and died hours later, the department said. His name has not yet been released.
Officers on the scene chased the suspect, took him into custody and recovered a gun that they saw him throw, police said.
Hicks has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and has confessed to the killings, Harrison said.
The shooting occurred on the route for the Muses parade, which is among the most popular of the Mardi Gras season, drawing thousands of revelers. In 2012, two people were injured in a shooting during the same parade at the same intersection.
The parade was about over at the time of Thursday’s shooting and revelers fled following the gunfire, local media reported.
Several parades have been scheduled to take place daily in the city through Mardi Gras.
SOURCE: Reuters, Jonathan Kaminsky