A 2-year-old boy suffered serious brain damage and his 4-year-old brother was permanently blinded when they were struck by errant bullets apparently meant for a convicted felon during Sunday night’s drive-by shooting in the Lower 9th Ward, their grandfather said Tuesday.
The children and their mother remain hospitalized.
Meanwhile, police said they believe they have identified the person behind the wheel of the getaway car that whisked away the still-unknown gunman.
The lack of any solid information about the shooter’s identity led the victims’ family and police to issue a plea that anyone with information on his identity provide it to investigators.
“Give us the name of the shooter, and we can move very fast on this particular case,” Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said during an afternoon news conference.
Whoever opened fire about 8 p.m. Sunday in the 5400 block of Burgundy Street killed 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson and 33-year-old Terrance McBride, who police think was the intended target.
In addition to 2-year-old Jamal Riley, 4-year-old Kyle Romain and their mother, Alaina Romain, their 13-year-old sister also was struck, as was a 37-year-old woman. The latter two victims have been released from the hospital.
Serpas said detectives believe there were at least two people in the car — the driver and the gunman — but they are not ruling out that others were in the vehicle.
“Now is the time for people to give us the name of the shooter,” Serpas said.
He said the incident appears to be related to drugs — heroin sales in particular — but not to gang activity, unlike many recent shootings in the city.
“This particular case, at this time, does not give us an indication of a traditional gang-member-involved event. It’s a narcotics-involved event. It’s a gun-toting event,” Serpas said. “Mr. McBride died. He was a felon in possession of a firearm facing charges for that and distribution of heroin.”
McBride had a criminal record dating back to 1999, with arrests on counts including felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, aggravated burglary and various drug charges. He also had a conviction for possession with the intent to distribute heroin.
He was arrested in January on gun and drug charges, including possession of a firearm or weapon by a felon and distribution of heroin, according to court records. He recently pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Wayne J. Romain Sr., Alaina Romain’s father, said it was still impossible to understand what has happened to his daughter and grandchildren.
“We are trying to make sense of something that is senseless. We are trying to understand something for which there is really no understanding,” he said in a written statement. “This city belongs to us, the law-abiding and tax-paying citizens who live, work and raise our families here, not the criminals. These senseless killings and shootings have to stop. How many other families have to go through what we’re going through before this ends?”
The family has declined interviews about the shooting and asked that Interim LSU Hospital not release updated information about the condition of Alaina Romain or her children so the family can focus its attention on their recovery.
“We greatly appreciate all the concern and love which has been shown to us and the other families during this time,” Wayne Romain said in his statement.
Meanwhile, a benefit concert will be held for the family Wednesday night at Bourbon Heat, the bar where Alaina Romain worked for the past several months.
Scheduled to perform are Kermit Ruffins, Rockin’ Dopsie and Guitar Slim. The concert begins at 6 p.m. at the bar, located at 711 Bourbon St.
Bourbon Heat will donate 100 percent of its profits on Wednesday to help Romain and her family.
James Spears, a Bourbon Heat employee who has worked with Alaina Romain, said the concert and the profits donation were the least the business could do.
“She busts her back here at Bourbon Heat for her kids,” Spears said.
Anyone with information about the gunman’s identity is asked to contact Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. A $5,000 reward is being offered.
WWL-TV reporter Paul Murphy contributed to this report. Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.