Less than a week after a gunfight erupted on Bourbon Street, killing one bystander and wounding nine others, authorities have arrested two men accused of opening fire in a crowd of revelers who had descended upon the French Quarter following the annual Bayou Classic football game.
The arrests, which followed an extensive manhunt, were hailed by city leaders after a shooting that drew national attention and renewed concerns about safety in the tourism heart of New Orleans.
Both gunmen are 20 years old and live in the Lafayette area. Jordan Clay was taken into custody late Thursday in Breaux Bridge, where he was still awaiting extradition Friday. He was to be booked on second-degree murder in the death of Demontris Toliver, the Baton Rouge tattoo artist who was killed in the shootout.
Hours after police announced Clay's arrest, authorities took the second suspect, Kavon Manuel, into custody at a home in the Lafayette area. Authorities said Manuel will be booked on one count of second-degree murder and nine counts of attempted murder.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, standing beside Toliver's father at a news conference Friday morning at City Hall, called the shooting a "tragedy that will never be forgotten." He told the victim's father that he would "have a hole in your heart, as you know, for the rest of your life."
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"The gunmen showed a complete disregard for everybody else's life," the mayor said, "and they did something that has changed families and the city forever.
Police offered few details about what led detectives to the Lafayette area but said they benefited from the cooperation of members of the public. Authorities declined to say whether they had recovered any weapons.
"We have a lot of work left to be done in this investigation," Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said. "We made a promise to track down the suspects responsible and bring them to justice, and together, we made good on that promise."
Neither gunman is believed to be affiliated with Southern University or Grambling State University, the schools whose teams clashed in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome several hours before the shooting. But both men had been in town for the festivities, Harrison said, and they apparently sought to settle an "ongoing dispute" that began outside New Orleans.
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"They met again on Bourbon Street that morning," Harrison said. "That encounter turned violent, and a shootout followed."
The gunfire broke out about 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the 100 block of Bourbon, near Iberville Street, sending hundreds of people fleeing in panic. Ten people — eight men and two women ranging in age from 20 to 37 — were struck in the hail of bullets, most suffering minor injuries.
Toliver, 25, was shot in the chest and shoulder area and fell to the ground, where he began calling out for his fiancee. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Toliver's father, Kim, thanked the authorities for providing his family a measure of justice. But he said he had lost "a part of my life."
"I had triplets. Now I don't," he said. "I only have two sons, and I want them to stay strong ... with me and my wife and my daughter."
City officials said a Demontris Toliver fund has been set up to help the victim's family with funeral expenses. Donations can be made at any Gulf Coast Bank & Trust branch.
In the aftermath of Sunday morning's fatal gunfight on Bourbon Street, city and police offic…
The shooting bore a striking resemblance to a similar melee in 2014, another two-man gun battle that occurred six blocks away on Bourbon Street. That shooting also killed an innocent bystander and wounded several other people, and it prompted an immediate and continuing increase in the number of State Police patrolling the French Quarter.
Authorities said Sunday's shooting underscored the limitations of law enforcement; more than two dozen police officers had been within a block when the violence broke out.
Business owners and community leaders this week have been discussing which additional measures, if any, might improve the safety of the French Quarter. "All options are on the table to continue to secure this city," Landrieu said.
In a year of resurgent gun violence in New Orleans, the mayor emphasized that other cities and states also have seen high-profile killings, adding, "This isn't just a Bourbon Street problem."
"You have a systemic problem in the country and particularly throughout the state of Louisiana," Landrieu said.
Court records show that Clay, a resident of Scott, in Lafayette Parish, had an earlier brush with the law this year.
Most of the people swarming the French Quarter for the Thanksgiving weekend were simply out …
On Jan. 6, Clay allegedly sold a man he met over Facebook a stolen .357 revolver with a serial number that had been filed down. Clay told Carencro police that he had received the weapon from a friend who sold it to him for "$100 and 5 grams of an unknown substance," according to a police affidavit.
Clay was booked July 2 on illegal possession of a stolen firearm. That case is still pending in Lafayette Parish.
Staff writer Matt Sledge contributed to this report.