One of the men behind the Bunny Friend Park bloodletting last month fired a semi-automatic gun into the crowd from a wheelchair, police say, and another of the shooters was himself injured during the barrage of gunfire.
Police have now taken into custody five of the eight named suspects in the mass shooting that wounded 17 people Nov. 22. Their booking documents revealed new details about the case — including the fact that the day after the Upper 9th Ward melee, one alleged attacker was wounded in another shooting in New Orleans East.
According to an arrest warrant, one witness told investigators that the park shooting began when Eddie “Eazy” Copelin, 20, was involved in an “intense argument” between two groups of people. The warrant says that argument resulted in several men drawing guns and opening fire.
Copelin, who was identified in a photo lineup, according to police, ended up among those shot, suffering a graze would to the foot and a bullet to the leg.
He was arrested Saturday. Court documents show he was booked on 17 counts of attempted murder — including, oddly, one count for attempting to kill himself.
Another suspect, Rashad Walker, was also placed in the park by a witness. That person claimed that Walker, who weighs 320 pounds, “was observed seated in a wheelchair ... firing a semi-automatic handgun into the crowd.” He also was arrested Saturday.
A witness also identified Lawrence Veals, 19, as one of the men inside the park, police say. The unnamed witness told police, according to a warrant, that he saw Veals produce a firearm, and then “seconds later heard gunfire erupt from the area where (Veals) was observed last standing.” A “reliable source” also allegedly told police Veals had admitted to shooting a gun at the park.
Veals was not injured in the Bunny Friend shooting. But police said his luck ran out the next night near Rosemont Place and Dreux Avenue in New Orleans East. Police said they found him lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to his lower abdomen.
Police said a man with Veals told investigators that the shooting had taken place closer to the intersection of Dreux and Rhodes Drive, a block away. That man then “promptly and unexpectedly left,” according to an incident report.
A witness near the corner of Rhodes and Dreux told police he saw four men firing guns into the air. Officers canvassing the neighborhood then spotted three males walking near Mayo Street and Dwyer Road. When police stopped them, 17-year-old Malik Johnson, who was later named as a suspect in the Bunny Friend shooting, was among them.
Another of the three men, police said, claimed Johnson was in possession of a black backpack found hundreds of feet away in a grass field. Officers said they found a Taurus Millennium 9mm handgun stolen from a Marrero woman in the bag. Police booked Johnson on possession of a stolen firearm.
Police did not make clear in an incident report whether they believe Johnson and his companions shot at Veals or whether the shooting was related to the Bunny Friend attack in any way.
Johnson is being held on $6,000 bail on the count of illegal possession of a stolen weapon. Veals, Walker and Copelin are all being held on $170,000 bail — $10,000 each for 17 counts of attempted murder.
Three suspects in the Bunny Friend shooting remain at large: Quendrick “C4” Bailey, 20; Michael “Mack” Allen, 29; and Wilfred “Lil Wilfred” Celestine, 19.