Police said 23-year-old Cortrell Bryant’s gun was still hot and its magazine was missing a single round shortly after two teens were hit by gunfire during Mardi Gras celebrations Tuesday on St. Charles Avenue.
Neither of the two victims, males aged 17 and 18, was seriously wounded. But the shooting nevertheless recalled previous episodes of violence along the parade route. This year, police confiscated 30 guns from people in the crowds in a stepped-up effort to keep weapons away from the celebration.
Police said in an arrest report that witnesses told them Tuesday’s shooting followed a large fight between several groups of people at a Walgreens store, apparently the one at 1801 St. Charles Ave., about 4:45 p.m.
Officers posted several blocks away on Euterpe Street near St. Charles saw a large crowd surging toward them, with witnesses shouting, “They’re shooting; they’re shooting!”
Police said they quickly encountered Bryant, who had a 9 mm pistol in his waistband that was hot to the touch and smelled like gunpowder. One round was missing from the magazine.
The first victim told police he hadn’t realized he was shot in the left leg until someone pointed it out to him.
The second victim’s wound was relatively minor. After the shooting, he took off running so fast that he lost his shoes. University Medical Center doctors told police that a laceration to his left ankle was caused by bullet shrapnel.
After being read his rights, police said, Bryant denied possessing or firing the 9 mm gun. He was booked on two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm at a parade, illegal carrying of a firearm on a parade route, possession of a firearm by a felon and a probation violation.
Jan Fennell, an Orleans Public Defenders staff attorney appointed to represent Bryant, argued in court Wednesday that none of the witnesses mentioned in the arrest report named Bryant as the shooter or saw the shooting happen.
Although police on Tuesday reported the shooting occurred in the 1400 block of St. Charles, a preliminary offense log on Wednesday morning cited a location several blocks upriver — at the intersection with Euterpe Street. A police spokesman did not respond to a request for clarification on where officers believe the two men where shot.
“There’s no indication when this gun was fired. Furthermore, there’s nothing to say that these two victims were shot by Cortrell Bryant. There was a large crowd,” Fennell said. “He was at a parade. There’s multiple people around.”
Magistrate Commissioner Albert Thibodaux sided with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office, finding probable cause for every count except the second count of reckless discharge of a firearm at a parade.
Thibodaux noted that although two people were wounded, there was no evidence presented in the arrest report that the gun was fired more than once.
The Fat Tuesday shooting marked the second time this Carnival season that gunfire took place along the St. Charles Avenue route.
Police reported Sunday night that shots were fired nearby as the Krewe of Bacchus rolled, although no injuries were reported.
Last year, two people were fatally shot during the Muses parade near St. Charles Avenue and Erato Street. Because of incidents like that, New Orleans police said this year that they put an intense focus on keeping guns away from the parade routes.
Police boasted in a release that they took 30 guns off the streets over the final 12 days of Carnival 2016.