New Orleans • Police identified a 19-year-old man as a suspect in the shooting of nearly 20 people during a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans, saying several people had identified him as the gunman.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said they were looking for Akein Scott of New Orleans. He said it was too early to say whether he was the only shooter.
"We would like to remind the community and Akein Scott that the time has come for him to turn himself in," Serpas said at a news conference outside of police headquarters.
A photo of Scott hung from a podium in front of the police chief. "We know more about you than you think we know," he said.
The mass shooting showed again how far the city has to go to shake a persistent culture of violence that belies the city’s festive image. Earlier, police announced a $10,000 reward and released blurry surveillance camera images, which led to several tips from the community.
"The people chose to be on the side of the young innocent children shot instead of on the side of a coward who shot into the crowd," Serpas said.
Angry residents said gun violence — which has flared at two other city celebrations this year — goes hand-in-hand with the city’s other deeply rooted problems such as poverty and urban blight. The investigators tasked with solving Sunday’s shooting work within an agency that’s had its own troubles rebounding from years of corruption while trying to halt violent crime.
"The old people are scared to walk the streets. The children can’t even play outside," Ronald Lewis, 61, said Monday as he sat on the front stoop of his house, about a half a block from the shooting site. His window sill has a hole from a bullet that hit it last year. Across the street sits a house marked by bullets he said were fired two weeks ago.
"The youngsters are doing all this," said Jones, who was away from home when the latest shooting broke out.
Video released early Monday shows a crowd gathered for a boisterous second-line parade suddenly scattering in all directions, with some falling to the ground. They appear to be running from a man in a white T-shirt and dark pants who turns and runs out of the picture.
Police were working to determine whether there was more than one gunman, though they initially said three people were spotted fleeing from the scene. Whoever was responsible escaped despite the presence of officers who were interspersed through the crowd as part of routine precautions for such an event.
Serpas said Scott has previously been arrested for resisting arrest, possession of a firearm and narcotics charges. It was not immediately clear whether he had been convicted on any of those.
Serpas said ballistic evidence gathered at the scene was giving them "very good leads to work on."
Witness Jarrat Pytell said he was walking with friends near the parade route when the crowd suddenly began to break up.
"I saw the guy on the corner, his arm extended, firing into the crowd," said Pytell, a medical student.
"He was obviously pointing in a specific direction; he wasn’t swinging the gun wildly," Pytell said.
Pytell said he tended to one woman with a severe arm fracture — he wasn’t sure if it was from a bullet or a fall — and to others including an apparent shooting victim who was bleeding badly.
Three gunshot victims remained in critical condition Monday, though their wounds didn’t appear to be life-threatening. Most of the wounded had been released from the hospital.
It’s not the first time gunfire has shattered a festive mood in the city this year. Five people were wounded in a drive-by shooting in January after a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, and four were wounded in a shooting after an argument in the French Quarter in the days leading up to Mardi Gras. Two teens were arrested in connection with the MLK shootings; three men were arrested and charged in the Mardi Gras shootings.
The shootings are bloody reminders of the persistence of violence in the city, despite some recent progress.
Last week, law enforcement officials touted the indictment of 15 people in gang-related crimes, including the death of a 5-year-old girl killed by stray gunfire at a birthday party a year ago.Next Page >
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.