Nine people were injured, two critically, in a shooting in New Orleans' French Quarter early Sunday, police said.
The 2:45 a.m. shooting in the 700 block of the celebrated Bourbon Street stemmed from an armed conflict between two men, Police Supt. Ronal W. Serpas said in a midday briefing. "This is two young men, both armed with firearms, who chose to settle a dispute between themselves without care for anyone else," he said.
"We have reason to believe they did exchange gunfire," Serpas said. He said he did not know whether the shooting was gang-related.
Dave Minsky, a freelance journalist, said he was spending time with friends at the nearby Boondock Saint bar when he heard shots fired.
“My immediate reaction was just to run out the door,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It looked like there was a gunman. It was so quick. He ran right by me.” That man, he said, was followed by two other men and then police hot on their heels.
“The guy was still shooting when I ran outside,” Minsky said. “I don’t want to think about it, but I could have been hit by a stray bullet.”
“There was a person lying in the street,” he said. “I didn’t see any gunshots, any blood, so I think she just fainted.”
Then he witnessed a more grave-looking injury. “I saw a pool of blood and followed the trail back to a person," he said. "It was a girl who got shot in the face.”
Two people were taken to hospitals in critical condition and seven in stable condition, according to police.
A witness said one man shot at another and then fired into the nearby crowd, according to CBS News.
"Just turned around and he started shooting at the crowd. He seemed pissed off at some dude, pulled the gun out and started shooting at the guy, then turned around on the crowd and started shooting at us," the witness, whose name was not provided, told CBS affiliate WWL-TV.
Serpas urged anyone with knowledge of what happened to contact police and requested that business owners submit surveillance footage. "Somebody knows who did this," he said. "Somebody’s mama knows who did this."
"These kinds of incidents will not go unanswered," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement. Our crime-fighting efforts have brought murders in the city of New Orleans to a historic nearly 30-year low. But on days like today, the statistics don't matter because every life is precious.... We will not rest until every corner of this city is safe."
Bourbon Street is New Orleans' most famous thoroughfare, a nightly swirl of bright neon and tourists with beverages in hand. A blend of jazz joints, strip clubs, bars and restaurants, the French Quarter's Bourbon Street has everything from four-star dining to sex shows.
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The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.