NEW ORLEANS >> One person remained in critical condition Monday after a weekend gunfight on Bourbon Street, the historic thoroughfare of nightspots that is a major destination for visitors in tourist-loving New Orleans.
Police said nine people were hit when shots rang out at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday. Five remained hospitalized at LSU Hospital. In addition to the critical patient, four were stable.
Victims’ identities and hometowns have not been made public but police said some were not from New Orleans.
Images captured from a surveillance camera above a bar showed people running down the street in the chaos of the shooting. Police placed several views of the shootout online asking for the public’s help in identifying the two shooters.
The violence happened as New Orleans prepares for a major summer tourist event: The annual Essence Festival opens Thursday and runs through the Fourth of July weekend.
“This Essence Festival, we’re using an overtime package of about $300,000 to make sure there’s more police officers here in the French Quarter area,” police chief Ronal Serpas said Sunday. “There will be plenty of police officers visible during Essence and July Fourth.”
What sparked the shooting remained unclear. “What happened was two young men got angry at each other and shot at each other,” Serpas said.
The scene on Bourbon Street on Monday was business as usual, with music blaring from bars as tourists strolled, drinks in hand.
On Sunday, visitor Justin Sigalos of Chicago, stood at the scene of the shooting, looking at the blood-stained sidewalk, saying he would not let the violence keep him from visiting again.
“Just understand that things happen and you’ve got to do your best to avoid putting yourself in that kind of situation,” he said.
It was the third major shooting on Bourbon Street in the last three years.
On the Saturday before Mardi Gras, four people were treated at a hospital after a shooting. During Halloween in 2011, one person was killed and seven others were injured after gunmen opened fire on each other.
Blaine Dorr, 70, has lived in the French Quarter since 1964 and on Bourbon Street since 1993, and while crime has always been a concern, he said he’s never seen the kind of brazen violence that’s taken place in his neighborhood the past few years.
“It’s frustrating,” Dorr said, standing outside his home about a block from where Sunday’s shooting occurred. “They don’t care about the consequences. They don’t care about going to jail. They don’t care about taking somebody’s life or losing their own. They just don’t care, and what do you do with that?”
Associated Press reporter Kevin McGill contributed to this story.