The return of fatal gunfire to Bourbon Street early Sunday morning prompted a call for drastic action from Sidney Torres, the former French Quarter trash magnate who last year launched a private off-duty police security force in the city's most historic neighborhood.
Torres, a vocal critic of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's approach to public safety in the city's prime tourism district, said he has sketched out a plan to set up nearly two dozen security checkpoints on streets leading into the Quarter for special events.
There, he said, private security would wave metal-detecting wands across incoming revelers, checking for guns and running the information on those who carry them through a database of licensed guns and permitted gun owners.
"This is an idea that I came up with within an hour," Torres said. "When you have national news out there that's showing one dead, somebody blazing guns in the middle of a crowded promenade, I think it's important for someone to call for action."
The early-morning melee marked the second shooting incident in less than three years to end in death and double-digit victims on the city's raucous haven for drunken revelry.
A relatively quiet early Sunday morning on Bourbon Street turned chaotic as shots rang out o…
A fatal gun assault several blocks down Bourbon Street in June 2014 -- also claiming 10 shooting victims, one fatal -- prompted an outcry for more police presence and a call from Landrieu for help from the State Police.
It also spurred Torres to launch his off-duty detail, the French Quarter Task Force, in March of last year.
Torres created the teams of detail officers who now ride around on carts, as well as a mobile app for reporting incidents directly to the off-duty cops.
Unlike in that incident, police presence was thick when gunfire erupted Sunday morning in the wake of the Bayou Classic football game in the Superdome, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said.
Torres said Sunday that he recognized "manpower is not the issue in this situation," focusing instead on the prevalence of illegal guns in similar violence sprees -- though little was known Sunday about the source of the gunfire.
"It's a very simple problem to fix, just like they have in the Superdome. Just like they do on Beale Street" in Memphis," he said.
Memphis officials began a program in June requiring visitors to pay admission to the Beale Street entertainment district after 10 p.m. on Saturday nights, with beefed-up security and ID checks. That plan has met with resistance among local business owners.
In the wake of Sunday morning's gun assault, Torres urged a similar approach to protect New Orleans' worldwide tourism draw.
"I'm not saying this is permanent, but that effective immediately we will have barricades for special events, checking people for licensed firearms, and we will be very detailed with how we check people," Torres said.
"This is not a Third World country. We're not in Iraq. This is Bourbon Street, the No. 1 generator for the city of New Orleans. We cannot let that go to the tank."
Photos: Bourbon Street scene of mass shooting in New Orleans
One person was killed and nine others injured in a mass shooting on Bourbon Street early Sunday morning.