11 wounded in shooting rampage at New Orleans French Quarter;  no arrests made

tA shooting rampage near the famed French Quarter of New Orleans early Sunday left 10 people wounded, revelers from an annual football game scrambling for cover and police in pursuit of at least one “cowardly” gunman.

New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said the shooting erupted on Canal Street near Bourbon Street, an area crowded with tourists and police officers – even at 3:20 a.m. Two of the injured were hospitalized in critical condition.  No officers were among the wounded,  he said.One person was detained near the scene, but Ferguson said he did not yet know what role, if any, the person had in the shooting. No arrests had been made.

“What happened in our city overnight was a cowardly and senseless act that we cannot and will not tolerate,” Ferguson said. “While this investigation is in the very beginning stages, one thing is certain – we will not stop until we identify and arrest those responsible.”

Ferguson said a heavy police presence was in the area because the annual Bayou Classic football game between Grambling State University and Southern University had been played Saturday. The game historically draws a huge crowd to the city.

Three years ago, one person was killed and nine others injured following a shooting spree on Bourbon Street hours after the game.On Sunday, “some individuals chose to do the wrong thing at the wrong time,” Ferguson said.

Police initially said 10 people were wounded, raised the number to 11 and then dropped it back to 10 later Sunday. Few other details were released, however.

“We had officers right there, within that very block, that actually thought they were being fired on,” Ferguson said. “Our officers … were within feet when this incident occurred, but unfortunately there we so many people out there we were unable to determine who was firing these shots.”

The motive for the shooting had not been determined, and Ferguson said he did not have names, gender or ages for those wounded. Police were interviewing witnesses and looking for surveillance and other videos that might shed light on the case, he said.

“This is the message we have been sending throughout the week,” Ferguson said. “Please leave your gun at home.”

Ferguson said state police and federal authorities were aiding the investigation.Kenneth Culbreth told nola.com he was heading to the Canal Street CVS to make a quick purchase when he heard gunshots.“I heard pops. It was so many, I couldn’t keep count,” he said.Mayor LaToya Cantrell called the shootings “an ugly disruption” to an otherwise beautiful weekend in the city of 400,000 people. She and Ferguson noted that violent crime in the city has been in decline for four years.

“The city of New Orleans will not allow incidents like this to derail the progress we have made or to further disrupt our community,” she said. “This tragedy will not define us, and it will not deter us from moving our city forward and keeping our people safe.
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