New Orleans — New Orleans police on Friday announced the arrest a 15-year-old boy they suspect was the gunman in a shooting following the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade Monday.
The Central City shooting left five teenagers injured.
While police announced the arrest on Friday, the youth actually turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said. Police did not immediately release the suspect’s identity, although it could be released next week, Serpas said.
Police allege the teen fired multiple shots into a crowd of young men gathered in front of a grocery store near the intersection of Lasalle Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Central City on Monday afternoon. The shooting happened about 30 minutes after the city’s annual parade that celebrates the civil rights icon ended.
Serpas said the teen was booked with five counts of aggravated battery, but those charges could increase depending on discussions with the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. A probable-cause hearing in the case is set for next week. Serpas praised the efforts of Detective Timothy Sison in the case, which he said involved very little initial evidence, but was cracked through hard work and community involvement.
“I want to share with the community my intense pride,” Serpas said.
Police are still searching for several other young who were riding in a white, two-door vehicle that investigators believe to be a Toyota or Nissan. Serpas said officers have gathered information from the community about the incident and that it’s only a matter of time before they find the other people involved. He advised them to surrender to police now.
“We are not going to stop until we find you,” said Serpas, who added that the young men will be charged as accessories in the incident.
The shooting is believed to be linked to an ongoing feud between rival groups. Serpas could not say if every victim was an actual target. Police recovered multiple .45-caliber shell casings at the scene. Police do not believe the shooting on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is linked to a shooting later that day that also involved a white vehicle.
After discussing the arrest, Serpas turned his attention to the beginning of Carnival season and his department’s efforts to try to prevent similar violence in crowds. Serpas said officers will actively examine individuals who might carry weapons. He noted that there are enhanced penalties for anyone found with a handgun along the parade route.
“We’re out there,” he said.
New Orleans police are preparing for a grueling three-week stretch that will include a week of Carnival duty, a week of Super Bowl duty and a final week of Carnival duty leading up to Mardi Gras Day. Officers are working 12-hour shifts, and the department has virtually eliminated any days off, Serpas said.
He estimated that his department will spend about $3.4 million in overtime, but added that his officers relish the opportunity to show the world why they are described by many as one of the best law enforcement agencies at handling large crowds.