NEW ORLEANS >> A teenager died and a 4-year-old girl was among the wounded when gunfire broke out along the route of a celebrated New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, police Superintendent Michelle Woodfork said Monday.
A 21-year-old man was quickly arrested and two guns recovered at the scene, where police were already out in force, Woodfork said. It was unclear if authorities believe the man in custody was the shooter, though he faces charges of illegally carrying a weapon. Woodfork said homicide investigators were seeking more information, including any motive and whether more than one person may have fired shots.
Carnival season, which begins Jan. 6, is in its final raucous days in New Orleans heading into Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. The largest parades roll in the final days, drawing thousands of spectators along the routes and into the narrow streets outside the French Quarter’s bars and restaurants. A shorthanded New Orleans police force is getting help from other Louisiana law enforcement agencies to help keep the peace.
The Sunday night shooting happened on St. Charles Avenue as the Krewe of Bacchus made its way to the halfway point of its five mile (8 kilometer) route.
The procession of marching bands, dance troupes and 32 elaborate floats draws thousands of locals and tourists each year. Performers and revelers had passed through the city’s historic Garden District and were nearing the Central Business District when gunfire sent panicked onlookers running for cover.
Woodfork said the teenager who died was between the ages of 15 and 18, but wasn’t immediately identified. The other four victims, the 4-year-old girl, an 18-year-old man and women ages 22 and 24, were treated and released from a hospital.
“This was an isolated incident,” Woodfork said. She and other city officials noted that the shooting marred what had largely been peaceful Carnival celebrations this year.
However, sporadic, sometimes fatal violence is a recurring problem during Mardi Gras parades. Woodfork noted previous problems in the area of Sunday’s shooting. Two men died nearby when gunfire broke out during the Muses parade in 2015.