NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Five people waiting at a downtown New Orleans bus stop were wounded by gunfire during a police shootout with an armed robbery suspect, authorities said, in a city weekend marred with multiple shootings.
The shootout that injured the five bystanders happened Sunday night, and officials said the robbery suspect was killed during an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and officers with the New Orleans Police Department and the Louisiana State Police that stretched over two city blocks.
The weekend’s violence comes as the city is ramping up its Mardi Gras festivities and readying for an influx of crowds. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell tried to ease concerns Monday.
“I want to assure all of our residents and our guests that we are well-coordinated, well-trained and ready for Carnival, and that we will not allow this ugliness to mar our celebration or to endanger our people,” the mayor said in a statement.
In the downtown shootout, the New Orleans Police Department said officers investigating two armed robberies that happened last week confronted a man deemed a person of interest in the crimes, according to local news reports. Police said the man, whom they haven’t identified, fired a gun at officers as they approached.
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said at a press briefing it was too early to tell who fired the bullets that hit the bystanders at the bus stop.
Of the five wounded, three had been released from the hospital by Monday afternoon, while two others remained hospitalized, according to NOPD spokesman Andy Cunningham. He said none of the injuries were considered life-threatening. Officials haven’t released the victims’ names. A New Orleans police officer also suffered injuries when his vehicle flipped as he attempted to reach the scene.
Ferguson and State Police Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves expressed remorse for the injured bystanders. But Ferguson defended officers’ actions, saying they were fired on first and shot back to defend themselves, their colleagues, and members of the public. In addition to internal investigators and state troopers, the FBI and New Orleans’ independent police monitor will review Sunday’s gun battle, Ferguson said.
Cantrell said her office remained in contact with the victims’ families and an investigation into the shootings was ongoing. Her statement also defended the law enforcement response.
“It is important that we acknowledge and understand the work our New Orleans Police Department is doing to keep our people safe. Far from being ‘the Wild West,’ our city sleeps under the protection of an interconnected web of law enforcement agencies whose effectiveness is on display every day,” Cantrell said.
Ten shootings were reported across the New Orleans region over the weekend, according to NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune .
Among the bloodshed, two teenagers were injured Friday in a shooting while they were on a home’s porch. Also that day, a 25-year-old man was shot in New Orleans and drove himself home to the suburb of Covington before seeking help at a hospital two days later.
On Saturday, police said a 22-year-old man was killed in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner after a bar fight led to a drive-by shooting. The suspected shooter was arrested. Later that day, New Orleans police found a man shot to death under an interstate overpass and another man shot and killed inside his pickup truck in different incidents.
Law enforcement responding to a crash on Interstate 10 just west of New Orleans on Sunday morning found a man shot to death in a car riddled with bullet holes. In a separate shooting Sunday afternoon, police said one man was killed and another injured in New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood.
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