New Orleans — Damon Harris was hurt badly, but he knew he had to get back home.
The 8-year-old had been outside playing with his sister and several other friends in the 4000 block of Baudin Street on Tuesday afternoon when two men walked up to some neighbors sitting on a porch and opened fire, according to Diane Davis, the boy’s grandmother. The hail of gunfire, which residents said seemed to stretch forever, left Desmond Bell, 22, and an unidentified man dead, and Damon with gunshot wounds to the stomach and arm, according to police.
Damon, whose nickname is “Bubba” because of his stoutness, got wounded because he wasn’t fast enough to follow his sister when she scampered under the house where they were playing when the bullets began flying, Davis said.
She was standing at her front door when the first shots came and ducked back inside. A few minutes later, Damon came stumbling onto her porch, a bullet lodged in his gut that doctors still haven’t been able to remove, and blood dripping everywhere. On Wednesday, drops of blood still traced the boy’s route from where he was shot to his grandmother’s front yard.
“I can’t believe he made it home ... All I know is they just started shooting, they just started shooting like there was no tomorrow,” said Davis on Wednesday, still shaken by the sheer volume of bullets. “I’ve never heard anything like that.”
New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Tuesday that the gunmen were wearing hooded sweatshirts, and fled to a nearby red minivan after the shooting. Police did not release any information on the type of weapons used in the incident, although they did say the men were armed with handguns. Police would not speculate on a motive in the killings. The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office could not release the name of one of the victims because his family had not been officially notified of his deaths.
Davis called the shooting unusual in the neighborhood that she has lived in for about two years. However, another man was killed in a rooming house just a few blocks away, and carjackings have been reported nearby as well. Typically residents stay inside and don’t cause much trouble, Davis said.
“We ain’t never had this,” she said with an emphatic shake of her head. “This is a quiet little area.”
Despite that quiet, Davis said was always leery about Damon and his sister playing outside away from the home. She preferred for the children to stay on her front porch, but their mother was adamant that they be allowed to have fun with youngsters their age. Davis said the children would often walk down to a home near where the shooting occurred to play with children.
“Always, every day they played outside in front or in the backyard,” she said. “I never did want them outside playing.”
Davis said Harris had three different surgeries overnight because of his injuries, and doctors initially upgraded his condition from critical to stable. She said the boy was able to speak to relatives last night, and his mother was with him at the hospital.
“When I left last night, he was in and out,” Davis said.
Damon is a student at nearby Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School of Literature and Technology, and gets good grades, according to his grandmother. It was unclear how long he will be out of school.
No one answered the door at the home where the two men were killed on Wednesday morning, although a light was on inside the residence. Pools of blood were still visible on the sidewalk and front steps of the home.
Damon’s shooting was the second involving a child in the metropolitan area this week. On Monday, three toddlers were wounded, when the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says, four gunmen unleashed a barrage of bullets on a Harvey apartment complex. A 63-year-old woman and 67-year-old woman also were wounded in that incident. The Sheriff’s Office has booked four men with attempted murder in connection with that shooting. New Orleans police also investigated the accidental shooting of a 3-year-old boy last month in eastern New Orleans.
In addition to the Mid-City homicide, police are investigating a separate shooting in eastern New Orleans that happened late Tuesday night. In that incident, an unidentified man was found dead in the 4200 block of McCoy Street around 11:35 p.m., according to police.
The man was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the body, and police have not released a motive or suspects in that incident as well. Police also looked into a shooting on South Saratoga Street and a stabbing in Algiers.