Update, 4 p.m. Monday: New Orleans police released surveillance video Monday showing the fight on Bourbon Street early Saturday that led to the shooting death of 26-year-old Brandon Robinson.
In the video, one suspect is seen punching the victim, and the second is seen shooting the victim, the New Orleans Police Department said in a news release.
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call detective Drew Deacon at 504-658-5300 or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.
A young Bourbon Street doorman who normally kept a cool head with the street’s sometimes challenging crowds died early Saturday morning when he was shot during a fight that, according to another longtime Bourbon Street worker, began with a petty argument about who stepped on whose tennis shoes.
“This is a kid who doesn’t go out looking for a fight. He comes out with a smile on his face,” Victor Pastor, 35, said of the 26-year-old victim, a New Orleanian who Pastor said was working hard to support a family that included at least one young child.
The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office identified the victim late Saturday as Brandon Robinson.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said that based on video and initial interviews, police were looking for at least two people: one who punched Robinson and a second man who pulled out a gun and shot him.
Friends said Robinson’s workplace, the Prohibition Bar and Balcony in the 300 block of Bourbon, was closed for renovations for most of the weekend, so he had the night off. He apparently was partying in familiar territory, outside Prohibition, when he was shot about 1:30 a.m. He died later at a hospital.
Saturday’s shooting was at least the second of its kind this year on Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ most notorious hotspot for adult entertainment. On March 21, two men were shot, one fatally, not far away near the intersection of Bourbon and Conti streets.
On June 29, 2014, two men opened fire on each other in the 700 block of Bourbon about 2:45 a.m., wounding 10 revelers and tourists but not each other. A 21-year-old nursing student from Hammond later died. One man remains in jail in the shooting, awaiting trial; the second shooter remains unidentified.
The latest incident occurred as the French Quarter and especially Bourbon Street were crowded with fans in town for Saturday’s Bayou Classic football game. Police presence on the street was also high, with 25 New Orleans Police Department officers and 15 state troopers assigned to Bourbon’s 10 or fewer entertainment-oriented blocks. The NOPD’s mounted division supplied an additional 15 officers, assisted by eight Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies on horseback.
After the shooting, people present said, the street was like a stampede, as people in the crowd ran away from the gunfire and police officers and horses moved toward it.
Officers are always stationed a half-block away at Conti Street, so the response was very swift. But even officers patrolling nearby might not have been able to see the incident, said one bartender, who left his shift at midnight and said that the crowd was extremely thick by that time.
Harrison emphasized that the incident was not related to tourism or the presence of Bayou Classic fans in town.
The morning crew on Bourbon Street concurred with Harrison’s assessment as workers erased traces of a busy Friday night, hosing off sidewalks, mopping up sticky floors and stocking bars and kitchens for Saturday night, which they expected to be jammed, despite the shooting.
For all large events such as Mardi Gras, the Sugar Bowl and the Bayou Classic, the strip changes. Daiquiri shops that rarely have security guards put a doorman at every opening. Some places roll in portable metal detectors or put bulletproof vests on their bouncers. Clubs that usually are free institute a cover. Bars remove furniture to stuff in more people. And they staff up: It’s not unusual for even the tiniest storefronts to schedule six bartenders plus barbacks to carry kegs and pour drinks for the unending crowds.
John Little, 48, who has bartended for nearly 20 years on Bourbon Street, and others who work on the street agreed that the Bayou Classic itself isn’t a problem. They said they almost never see clashes between students from Grambling or Southern universities, the two schools that face off during the annual game. But what’s distinctive about a few big events like the Bayou Classic is the relative youth of those who end up on Bourbon Street, they said.
When the average age decreases, the workers who often pull 12-hour shifts make less money, Little said. On Friday, for instance, he rang up nearly $1,000 in sales but earned only $60 in tips, less than half of what he would typically make.
It’s for that reason that some bars choose to close, ostensibly to renovate, during some big events, hospitality workers said Saturday.
A decade ago, closures like that during the Bayou Classic became a sore point, especially after a study found that some Bourbon Street bars charged black customers higher prices than white customers.
Little on Saturday mourned the loss of Robinson, “a really good guy” who often walked by his door on the way to get a slice of pizza. He also said the shooting wasn’t reflective of Friday night’s crowds, which were predominantly jolly and uninhibited.
“Most people were just here to have a good time,” Little said.
Harrison encouraged anyone with information about the incident to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.