NEW ORLEANS — Nine people were shot and injured — including two critically — after being caught in the crossfire when a gun battle erupted between two men on touristy Bourbon Street in New Orleans’ celebrated French Quarter, police said.
Two people were in critical condition after the early Sunday shooting, said New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas. Six others were hospitalized in stable condition. The remaining victim’s condition was not available.
The victims were shot two blocks from historic Jackson Square and just around the corner from the popular Pat O’Brien’s piano bar. Preservation Hall, a music venue dedicated to preserving New Orleans jazz, is also nearby.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Sunday pledged a swift law-enforcement response.
“Our No. 1 priority is to keep New Orleans safe,” Landrieu said in a statement issued through City Hall spokesman Tyler Gamble. “These kinds of incidents will not go unanswered … I am confident that between video evidence and eyewitness accounts, we will bring the perpetrators to justice.”
New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas said at a news conference Sunday in the French Quarter that the victims were shot “by two cowardly young men trying to hurt each other.”
“We are going to bring them to justice,” Serpas said. “What happened was two young men got angry at each other and shot at each other.”
Not all the victims were from New Orleans, Serpas said. Police and emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene moments after the shooting took place.
Police have not determined whether the shootings might be gang-related, Serpas said. He called on residents, businesses and witnesses who may have video footage, including any from surveillance cameras, to contact police.
Sunday morning’s incident is the third major shooting on Bourbon Street in the last three years.
Last February 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.
Andrew and Timothy Wiese, brothers from Daphne, Alabama, near Mobile, were walking down Bourbon Street on Sunday with cocktails in their hands. They said they were stunned to hear news of the shooting. They had been on Bourbon Street until a little after midnight.
“We might be cutting tonight a little shorter,” Andrew Wiese said.
Bourbon Street is New Orleans’ most famous street, a nightly swirl of bright neon and happy tourists with beverage in hand. A blend of jazz joints, strip clubs, bars and restaurants, Bourbon Street has everything from four-star dining to sex shows.
Built on higher ground than most of the city, the French Quarter was spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, mostly suffering scattered wind and water damage.