Authorities on Friday arrested three Jefferson Parish men accused of instigating a late-night brawl last weekend outside a club on Bourbon Street — a free-wheeling fight that was captured on video, since viewed thousands of times online.
The four-minute clip, which circulated on Facebook and included no signs of any law enforcement personnel, underscored the lack of manpower that has plagued the New Orleans Police Department and prompted city officials to seek long-term assistance from the State Police to help keep the peace in the French Quarter.
New Orleans police officers took 10 minutes to respond to the fight outside the Bourbon Heat club in the 700 block of Bourbon, deepening doubts about security in the city’s signature tourist destination as Carnival kicks into high gear.
“This is the type of incident we hope to prevent now and going into the future,” Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said at a news conference Friday on Bourbon Street, addressing reporters over the cries of Mardi Gras revelers. “Our message to the criminal community: If this is the life you choose, this will be the price you pay.”
Officers initially issued summonses to an unknown number of participants in the fight, which was reported to police about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Investigators later examined surveillance footage of the fracas and identified four members of a group called “New Boyz,” said Col. Mike Edmonson, the State Police superintendent.
“It was an incident that’s been viewed by people not only around the country but also around the world,” Edmonson said. “When these things happen, they’re not going to be tolerated.”
State Police detectives, accompanied by state probation officials, arrested the men about 5:30 a.m. Friday at two residences in Kenner.
Taken into custody Friday on counts of criminal trespassing were Demetrius Domingues, 22; Jovon Murrey, 20; and Potong Tom Davis Jr., 22.
Domingues and Murrey also were booked on disturbing the peace by fighting. Domingues faces an additional count of criminal damage to property, and Davis faces a count of distributing illegal narcotics.
An arrest warrant was issued for a fourth man, 20-year-old Enrique Alvarado, also known as “Kique Wolf,” though he remained at large late Friday.
Edmonson said the suspects were involved in starting the violent standoff, which took place between a group of men and bouncers for the club. State Police said the “New Boyz” apparently had been planning a “second altercation” this weekend.
Harrison this week acknowledged that officers had been slow to respond to the Bourbon Street brawl, which he said “appeared to be as dangerous as any fight.”
“My reaction is that we’re working every day to improve that,” he said. “We don’t deny we have staffing challenges.”
Video of the fight circulated on Tuesday as the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau pledged $2.5 million to the State Police to cover the cost of keeping troopers in the city through at least mid-May, an unprecedented arrangement that highlighted the city’s law enforcement needs and financial limitations. A recent series of high-profile assaults, robberies and muggings has focused fresh attention on the city’s chronic struggle with violent crime.
Figures released by the NOPD late Friday showed that so-called crimes against persons in the city increased by 27 percent in 2014 from the year before. While murders fell to 150 in 2014, the lowest number recorded since 1971, the city saw a 27 percent jump in assaults and a 37 percent increase in armed robberies.
Property crimes increased by 13 percent, the figures showed.
About 150 state troopers will deploy to the city for Mardi Gras, Edmonson said, with 42 of them expected to hit the streets Friday night. Several dozen troopers are expected to remain in the city well after Carnival, as the Police Department seeks to recruit hundreds of new officers.
“We’re working together,” Harrison said of the blue-uniformed troopers. “There’s no light between us.”
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.