New Orleans shooting: Police identify a suspect

In this image taken from video and provided Monday, May 13, 2013, by the New Orleans Police Department, a possible shooting suspect in a white shirt, bottom...
In this image taken from video and provided Monday, May 13, 2013, by the New Orleans Police Department, a possible shooting suspect in a white shirt, bottom...
AP Photo/New Orleans Police Department

Updated at 11:15 p.m. ET

New Orleans Police Department’s Fifth District detectives have identified a man they believe opened fire yesterday into a large crowd during a second-line, wounding 19 people, including two children.

Less than 25-hours after the shots were fired, detectives obtained an arrest warrant for 19-year-old Akein Scott. Investigators and NOPD SWAT team members checked two locations for Scott Monday night, but were unsuccessful. Multiple witnesses came forward to police and identified Scott as the triggerman.

The investigation is still active, as it’s not yet been determined whether Scott was the only person to fire a weapon at yesterday’s event. Detectives continue to collect evidence, conduct interviews and have canvassed and re-canvassed the area where the shooting occurred in an effort to gather more information.

“The work done by our Fifth District team is arguably some of the finest police work I’ve seen in my 12 years as a chief.  Right after the first shot was fired yesterday afternoon, these officers knew exactly what to do and wasted no time getting to it,” said Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

“I also want to commend those members of the community who stepped up and contacted police with the information they had.  There were dozens of people at yesterday’s second line.  And we know there is more information out there.  So we are still asking people who were at the scene, to call us…send us the video of the second line that you may have recorded on your cell phone,” Serpas said.

“Akein Scott needs to do the right thing, and turn himself in.  What happened yesterday was an atrocity, and we want to make sure that everyone who took part in that violence faces consequences of the criminal justice system.”

Police said Scott had previous arrests for weapons possession and drug charges.

Medical student Jarratt Pytell was marching in a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans’ 7th Ward Sunday, just past Claiborne Street, when he heard “a sound like firecrackers, like the little Black Cats that explode in quick succession.” It took Pytell and the crowd of hundreds only a few seconds to realize they were being fired on by at least one unnamed shooter, who, before everyone had time to clear out or hit the ground, wounded nineteen people, including two 10-year-old children.

“The shots were coming so fast, it was difficult to tell them apart,” Pytell wrote Monday. “The wave of people hit the ground. I landed on top of my friend Matt’s aunt. We were all in a ditch on the side of the street. Right before [my girlfriend] Emily went to the ground she said, ‘This isn’t happening.’”

The shooting occurred at at around 1:47pm Sunday, according to the New Orleans’ Police Department, during a second-line parade, in which locals march and dance behind brass bands in a normally cheerful spectacle common to New Orleans. Serpas said Monday that there may have been as many as three shooters involved in the exchange.

Police released surveillance footage of the scene Monday morning, which shows successive frames of one suspect pointing a gun into a panicked crowd and then running away. The FBI in New Orleans have denied that the shooting was an act of terrorism, calling it instead “an act of street violence.”

Though three victims were brought to a local hospital in critical condition, none of the gunshot wounds were fatal, and police say that most injuries were not life-threatening. Of the 19 wounded, 11 were admitted to New Orleans’ Interim LSU Public Hospital, and three underwent immediate surgery. A number of victims, including the 10-year old boy and a 10-year old girl, were only grazed.

As of Monday morning, seven victims were discharged from the hospital. The three who received surgical treatment are expected to receive more in the coming days, said a hospital spokesman.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is encouraging anyone with information or video footage of the shooter or shooters to come forward. ”These kinds of incidents will not go unanswered,” he told the Times-Picayune. “Somebody knows something. The way to stop this violence is for you all to help.”

“There was yelling and crying,” Pytell recalls. “Cops had moved in and were calling for backup. The man I was helping had two wounds on his arm. One was through his bicep, and the other on his triceps, and it looked as though the bullet went straight through. He didn’t have a pulse, so I removed the tourniquet, applied direct pressure, and used the belt to hold a towel around his wounds.”

The man survived, as did several others whom Pytell aided. After the EMS arrived, Pytell left to reunite with his friends. None were hit by gunfire, though Pytell says all were understandably shaken.

Pytell is a 3rd year medical student at Louisiana State University. Previously, he taught 7th and 8th graders within the Recovery School District in New Orleans for Teach For America. In the crowd, his girlfriend Emily spotted a couple of their old students.

“This shooting is our first,” Pytell writes, “but that was their neighborhood, where they live and grew up, and it was something they deal with daily.”

New Orleans shooting: Police identify a suspect