The staggering low point of a day in which nine people were shot in New Orleans came at mid-afternoon, when a five-year-old girl and another innocent bystander were left mortally wounded outside a young boy's tenth birthday party.
At about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to police, on a blisteringly hot day that had just begun to cool, three men pulled up to the birthday party at 1212-1214 Simon Bolivar Avenue in Central City and began shooting into the crowd. A surveillance video provided by the New Orleans Police Department shows the gunmen running from the party and peeling off from the scene in a late-model, four-door silver Nissan Maxima.
The ten-year-old boy is currently hospitalized at LSU Interim Hospital in stable condition — though shot in the leg and with a graze wound to his face — along with two other adult men, who were also shot but escaped life-threatening injuries.
The boy's five-year-old cousin, a guest at the party, was rushed into surgery at the same hospital, as was a 33-year-old woman who was driving her green Mazda a block away from where the gunmen opened fire. An errant bullet passed through the woman's windshield and struck her in the face, and she crashed into a telephone pole at the corner of Simon Bolivar and Thalia Street.
Both died at the hospital later that evening.
"This has got to stop," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who rushed to the scene of the shooting. "We're going to do everything we can to bring them to justice."
Police say at least 24 shots were fired during the melee.
"They saw the kids. They saw the balloons the family had used to decorate the house. And they proceeded to pull the trigger," said New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
"I implore the people of this neighborhood to contact our detectives and tell them what they saw, so we can put away these child killers who obviously have no respect for life," said Serpas. "The will of the people of New Orleans is far stronger than the heinous acts of these cowards."
"Today was a really, really tough day for the City of New Orleans," said Landrieu.
Anyone with information on the shootings is being urged by the police to call Crimestoppers, at (504) 822-1111.