Joseph “Moe” Allen, 32, turned himself in to police Saturday, a day after Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendent Michael Harrison announced that he was a suspect and pleaded for witnesses to come forward with video or other evidence from the melee in which 17 people were shot, none fatally.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, police homed in on Allen after a witness supplied them with “a name and a nickname of one of the many shooters that were involved in the mass shooting.”
The witness later identified Allen again through a photo lineup as “walking into Bunny Friend Playground and firing a semi-automatic handgun into the crowd,” Detective Chad Cockerham wrote.
Allen, who was booked on 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder, gave New Orleans police a home address in Houston. He is being held without bail for the time being, based on an out-of-state warrant as a parole fugitive.
Jason Clark, a Texas Corrections Department spokesman, said Allen had been under Texas parole supervision since Jan. 9 after transferring from Louisiana. The agency issued a fugitive warrant for Allen on Wednesday upon learning from New Orleans police that he was wanted in the shooting.
Allen “didn’t have permission to travel out of state,” Clark said.
Allen, whose criminal history dates back 13 years in New Orleans, pleaded guilty in 2012 to heroin possession and illegal possession of stolen things as a two-time offender, following a 2009 arrest. He received an eight-year prison sentence. Court records show that a judge two years ago amended his sentence to make him eligible for work-release and other programs through the state Corrections Department.
Louisiana Corrections Department spokeswoman Pam Laborde said Allen was granted parole in January and confirmed that his parole, slated to run to 2019, was transferred to Texas.
Clark said Allen reported to the Houston parole office, which required monthly office visits and also conducted home checks. Allen’s last office visit was Nov. 2. A parole officer last visited his Texas home on Nov. 12, 10 days before the gunfire erupted at the Upper 9th Ward playground.
Allen’s attorney, Kevin Boshea, declined to comment Monday on the case or on claims that his client’s mother, Deborah Allen, made to WWL-TV on Monday, saying her son was in Houston at the time of the shootout, shopping with his expectant wife for baby clothes. She told the TV station that the family was trying to round up video to prove the alibi.
“My son is innocent,” Allen told the station. “They got the wrong guy.”
In the search warrant, Cockerham described the scene that he and other officers encountered after hearing “a barrage of gunfire erupt” as they were en route to the playground to break up an unauthorized party.
They “were met with chaos and panic of citizens running in numerous directions across the park as well as throughout the surrounding streets,” he wrote.
Cockerham said he “observed victims scattered across the north side of the park lying on the ground suffering from gunshot wounds.”
Harrison said Friday that police suspect there were several shooters and “probably multiple targets.”
“With the number of shooters, they weren’t just shooting at one person. There were people shooting at each other, and a lot of people got hurt,” Harrison said. Suggesting a possible gang motive, he said Allen has ties to “more than one organization.”
Allen’s criminal history also includes a no-contest plea to a 2010 carjacking, for which he received a five-year prison sentence; a home invasion charge that same year for which a judge found him not guilty; a weapons possession count from 2008 that was dismissed; and various earlier drug charges.
Online records show he also was arrested in New Orleans in 2007 on a count of murder and three counts of attempted murder, all of which the District Attorney’s Office refused. Another murder count against Allen, in 2002, also was refused.
His convictions include a guilty plea to a 2002 cocaine charge for which his co-defendant was Travis Scott, the older brother of admitted mass shooters Akein “Keemy” Scott and Shawn “Shizzle” Scott, who pleaded guilty to federal charges related to a shooting melee during a second-line parade on Mother’s Day 2013 that wounded 20 people.
Akein and Shawn Scott were accused of firing into the parade while targeting an associate of a rival gang.
Travis Scott pleaded guilty last month to the federal racketeering charge as well, while admitting to intimidating witnesses to protect his younger brothers.
Police are asking people with information on the Bunny Friend Playground shooting to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.