Nagin: "Knuckleheads" to blame for parade triple shooting
01:11 PM CST on Monday, January 16, 2006
"Knuckleheads" are to blame for the shootings that wounded three people just after a parade organized to show unity and support for New Orleans' rebuilding, Mayor Ray Nagin said Monday at a Martin Luther King Day ceremony.
In the face of the devastation still remaining, four months after Hurricane Katrina hit, people still came together to have a float-less "second-line" parade and have a good time, Nagin said.
Framing his speech as a conversation in which he asked King's opinion about what has happened to New Orleans, Nagin said he told the slain civil rights leader: "And then knuckleheads pull out some guns and start firing into the crowd. And they injured three people."
"He said, `I definitely wouldn't like that,"' Nagin said.
The Social Aid & Pleasure Club All-Star Second-Line had featured numerous clubs marching to support New Orleans' renewal and their own role in the city's future. Thousands of people, some of whom had come from Houston and Atlanta to join in, had gathered on Broad Street to watch.
The shootings occurred shortly after the parade ended Sunday afternoon in an area of businesses and homes which are nearly all still empty because of the floods that followed Hurricane Katrina's landfall on Aug. 29.
Patrol officers heard gunfire and found a 34-year-old man with multiple wounds. Minutes later, they heard more shots, which had wounded an 18-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, both in the leg.
No arrests had been made Monday, said Officer Juan Barnes, a New Orleans police spokesman. He said police will not release the victims' names, and he did not know what prompted the shootings or whether the same person shot all three victims.
"It's time for all of us good folk to stand up and say, `We're tired of the violence. We're tired of black folks killing each other," Nagin said.
Rafael Goyeneche, head of the independent Metropolitan Crime Commission of Greater New Orleans, said he did not know whether the shootings were an indication that crime is back to normal in New Orleans.
"I'd like to think not. But there's no denying that, unfortunately, events like that happened all too frequently before Hurricane Katrina. I'd like to think it's an aberration. But only time will tell," he said.
Goyeneche said current leaders seem to realize that "the criminal justice system in New Orleans was broken long before Hurricane Katrina blew through here," and are trying to fix it.
"I think we need to give this administration time to implement some of the policies they're attempting to install," he said.
If the shooting was a "random, heat of the moment" incident, the new policies probably couldn't have changed anything -- but if career criminals were involved, a new regional push to keep an eye on such people might have prevented it, Goyeneche said.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)