A medical practitioner from Connecticut who happened to be out on Bourbon Street celebrating his 34th birthday was among the first to render aid on the man shot in the abdomen in the busy thoroughfare early Sunday morning, according to the medic and members of the New Orleans Police Department.
"It was a little crazy, but once the cops and EMS got there it all went pretty smoothly," said Thomas LaVoie, the man who rushed to apply pressure to the victim's abdomen where he said the bullet exited after ripping through the man's side.
Police on Sunday said they were still searching for "a person of interest" in relation to the crime, which NOPD said had stemmed from an argument sparking in the 400 block of Bourbon Street shortly after 12:30 a.m.
Police said the victim, a 20-year-old man, was with his friends when he got into a physical argument with the suspect who pulled out a gun and shot him.
Recalling the incident, LaVoie told the New Orleans Advocate that he was out bar-hopping with friends and his wife Laura. He had just come out of the restroom of a bar on Bourbon Street when his wife told him a man had been shot on the street almost directly outside of where they were, he said.
As the crowd started running away from the scene, LaVoie said he started running towards it, because as a medic he said he would know what to do until the first responders on duty arrived.
He immediately began applying pressure to the wound, which he said was caused by a single bullet.
"I pretty much knew exactly what to do," LaVoie said. "I just helped out until they had enough hands."
LaVoie said he never caught the victim's name, nor did he remember the man giving any details about the incident "besides saying that it hurt, obviously."
Although some reports said the man had used a wheelchair, LaVoie said he didn't recall seeing one nearby. He quickly added, however, that a crowd built up around him and the victim "pretty quickly," so it was hard to see the street even a few feet in front of or behind the scene.
Nor did he remember seeing the man police caught on surveillance video, the person NOPD detectives said they wanted to speak to in connection with the incident.
The medic did remember a woman who said she was a nurse talking to the man who was wounded.
"She rendered no aid, but was holding on to his face," LaVoie said. "They seemed really friendly."
The victim was ultimately transported to University Hospital, police said. LaVoie said that when he left him, the man's prognosis seemed good.
"He wasn't in critical condition or anything," LaVoie said adding that he thought the man would be hospitalized for a short time "barring any infections in the wound or anything."
By the time LaVoie left the crowded scene, the victim was "stable, alert and communicating to police," he said.
As for LaVoie, it ended up being an eventful birthday, he said, and a memorable mark to the beginning of his residency in the Crescent City. He had just moved to New Orleans a week prior, he said.
"I had barely finished unpacking," he laughed.
He added that his wife may want to reconsider working in the French Quarter, where she was thinking of applying for a job in the restaurant industry, but other than that the incident didn't change his mind about wanting to stay in New Orleans.
"It doesn't bother me much," he said.
The shooting comes less than one month after another on Bourbon Street. In that Nov. 27 incident, a man was killed and nine others were wounded when gunfire erupted about 1:30 a.m. in the 100 block of Bourbon Street, near Iberville Street.
Video surveillance of the November incident obtained by The New Orleans Advocate shows hundreds of people fleeing in panic. Police said the victims — eight men and two women ranging in age from 20 to 37 — were struck in the hail of bullets, most suffering minor injuries.
Demontris Toliver, 25, was killed.
Two suspects were arrested. Authorities said that incident, also, stemmed from a "dispute."