New Orleans Saints defensive back Keenan Lewis spoke out Thursday night as the brother-in-law of Lionel “Bumma” Delpit III -- the Big Chief of the Black Feather Mardi Gras Indian tribe -- who was gunned down Wednesday night along with his pregnant girlfiend.
"A loving, caring guy. All about his family, you know, gave his life to God. Anybody who ever knew him knew he always kept a smile on his face," Lewis told FOX 8.
"Every day he used to come by the house talking about he couldn't wait ‘til his son come along and, you know, teach him the things that he know - the Indian dances and all that stuff."
Neighbors said dozens of shots sounded just before 10 p.m. Wednesday in a parking lot of the Wind Run Apartments in the 12100 block of the Interstate 10 Service Road. When the shooting was over, Delpit III, 25; Breon Stewart, 23; and the couple’s baby, whom they had planned to name Lionel Delpit IV, were dead in the front seat of their vehicle. Police were left searching for suspects.
The deaths of Delpit and Stewart were the 151st and 152nd homicides of the year in New Orleans, a grim milestone that means the city has now exceeded last year’s total of 150 killings.
The Wind Run killings also were the seventh slaying to claim more than one victim in New Orleans East alone this year.
Indians from across the city massed Thursday night at Hunters Field, a traditional 7th Ward gathering spot, to honor the dead. Mourners danced, wept and shook tambourines raised high in the air as the crowd grew larger by the minute.
Wild Magnolias Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr., who helped organize the event, said he had last seen Delpit in line at the Carnival supply shop Jefferson Variety on Tuesday. They spent so long talking that the clerk passed them over and took the customers waiting behind them.
Even though he is an Uptown Indian and “Bumma” was from Downtown, he said, they always felt a special bond as second-generation chiefs carrying on the legacy of their fathers.
“It’s younger people like us that are carrying the tradition on, so we always stuck together,” Dollis said.
Gaynell Sorina, the Big Queen of the Black Feather Indians, recalled that when Delpit’s father was on his deathbed, he gave her an instruction: Never leave someone without telling them that you love them, because it may be the last time you see them.
Sorina broke down in tears as she said that when she had seen Delpit earlier this week, they had parted in just that way.
Matt Sledge and Katy Reckdahl contributed to this report.