Update, Dec. 6, 2015, 9 a.m.: Three additional suspects have been identified in the Nov. 22 mass shooting at Bunny Friend Park, police said Sunday.
Eddie "Eazy" Copelin, 20, Malik "Leaky" Johnson, 17, and Wilfred "Lil Wilfred" Celestine, 19 have all been identified as suspects who were directly involved in the shooting, the New Orleans Police Department said in a news release.
All three suspects face 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. Celestine is still at large, NOPD said. Johnson was arrested on an unrelated charge on Nov. 24, and is already in custody. NOPD Fifth District detectives located and arrested Copelin Saturday night.
The identification of three additional suspects comes two days after police identified four other suspects in the shooting. There are now a total of eight suspects identified in the shooting. Five are in custody. Quendrick “C4” Bailey, Michael “Mack” Allen and Celestine are still wanted.
"We're moving fast and aggressive on this investigation. We made a promise to the community that we would not stop until we found and arrested all subjects that were involved in this heinous crime," NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said at a press conference Sunday morning. "And we are going to continue to work, because there may be more."
Both Harrison and Commander Chris Goodly said they were not ready to reveal everything about the investigation for fear of hampering it. They did say, however, that several subjects were involved in a number of different gangs, and when gunfire was exchanged, "innocent people got hurt."
"The members that we have identified have gang affiliations," Harrison said. "Some have gang affiliations from out of that area. Some have gang affiliations that cross over an overlap into other gangs."
Harrison urged members of the public to turn over any relevant photos or videos that might have captured the scene at Bunny Friend Playground that day, reminding citizens that they could submit tips anonymously.
"The message is clear. We will not tolerate that level of violence," Harrison said. "We're going to come after every single person who chooses that lifestyle, chooses to commit that kind of terror on the city."
Update, Dec. 5, 2015, 9:41 a.m.: Larence "L" Veals, 19, and Rashad Walker, 22, turned themselves into New Orleans Police headquarters early Saturday morning and are in questioning, New Orleans police said.
The mass shooting that wounded 17 people last month at Bunny Friend Park appears to have stemmed from a gang feud of some kind, New Orleans police said Friday as they identified four new suspects in the Upper 9th Ward melee.
Cmdr. Chris Goodly, of the 5th District, told reporters at police headquarters that some of the accused shooters “may be cross-associated with several of the gangs, so it would be premature to say which they are actually affiliated with at this point in the investigation.”
He noted that one of the newly announced suspects, Rashad Walker, 22, is known as “KMG Ezzy,” a nickname that apparently refers to a 9th Ward street gang.
“There were probably some ongoing inner feuds or intrafeuds going on within a gang,” Goodly said.
Walker and the other newly named suspects — Lawrence “L” Veals, 19; Quendrick “C4” Bailey, 20; and Michael “Mack” Allen, 29 — remained at large late Friday, wanted on 17 counts each of attempted murder in the Nov. 22 shooting.
Another accused gunman, Joseph “Moe” Allen, 32, surrendered to police last week, though his mother insists he was in Houston at the time of the shooting.
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said investigators have not ruled out the possibility of other suspects, and he appealed to citizens to continue providing the authorities with leads and photos or videos of the scene through Crimestoppers. He said the additional four suspects were identified as a result of “good police work and citizen participation.”
“Our detectives are running hard with that information, and that has led us to where we are today,” Harrison said. “Innocent people got hurt out there. This could have been much worse.”
The shooting, which attracted international media attention to the city’s high rate of violent crime, happened as police were headed to the Gallier Street park to disperse a crowd of hundreds of people who had gathered for an unauthorized music video shoot advertised on social media.
Four minors, including a 10-year-old boy, were among the victims.
Droves of people broke into a stampede when at least two groups of young men began spraying dozens of bullets at each other. Witnesses said the gunmen then quickly fled the park.
With the help of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, police have analyzed many of the bullet casings found at the scene, Harrison said, and “are actively working to connect those to the evidence that may be in our system.”
Harrison touted the naming of the suspects as the fulfillment of a promise the Police Department made to get to the bottom of the mass shooting, a crime he described as an act of terror.
“This is not a game,” he said, addressing the suspects, “and we are not playing with you.”
Police have asked anyone with information about the shooting to call the 5th District at (504) 658-6050 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.
Darlene Cusanza, president and CEO of Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans, said her organization has increased its award to $10,000 for fruitful tips in the case.
Asked about Allen, who, according to police, declined to provide a statement upon his arrest, Harrison dismissed claims by the suspect’s mother that detectives arrested the wrong man in the case. “I think (she) should leave that for his trial,” he said.
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.