A special state grand jury indicted 10 people Wednesday in connection with the Nov. 22 mass shooting at Bunny Friend Park that wounded 17 people and sent hundreds of frantic revelers scrambling from the pocket park in the Upper 9th Ward.
The 15-count indictment names nine defendants in the first count, a charge of negligently discharging a firearm “where it was foreseeable that it might result in death or great bodily harm.”
None of the defendants are accused in the indictment of attempted murder, a crime for which all nine of the suspected shooters were booked — on 17 counts each — in the days and weeks after an incident that drew international attention.
A spokesman for Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office declined to comment on the case, citing office policy, but the indictment indicates that prosecutors soon will refuse those attempted murder counts.
The firearms count carries a 10- to 20-year prison sentence upon conviction for a first offense.
Indicted Wednesday were Malik “Leaky” Johnson, 17; Lawrence Veals, 19; Rashad “KMG Ezzy” Walker, 22; Wilfred Celestine, 20; Eddie “Eazy” Copelin, 21; Quendrick “C-4” Bailey, 20; Michael “Snoop” Allen, 29; Allen Offray, 22; Shawn “Shooter” Ruffin, 22; and Dominic Savoy, 18.
Savoy, however, is not charged in the Bunny Friend shooting.
He faces a count of negligent discharge of a weapon from a different shooting, on Nov. 23, the day after the park melee, along with two counts of illegal possession of stolen weapons.
In that Nov. 23 incident in New Orleans East, Veals ended up shot in the gut, and Savoy fled the scene, according to a police report. The indictment Wednesday also charges Johnson with stolen weapons and obstruction counts in connection with that incident.
Johnson is named in eight counts in the indictment, the most of the 10 defendants. Walker faces seven counts.
Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter set bail for Walker at $3.5 million and for Johnson at a little over $2 million. All of the other defendants face bail amounts of at least $500,000, the figure Hunter set on the first gun charge.
Among the allegations against Johnson are two counts of obstruction of justice on the day of the shooting in the park, for removing evidence, according to the indictment.
Wednesday’s indictment came a day before several of the suspects arrested following the shootout were due in court for preliminary hearings. The indictment removes the need for prosecutors to put on witnesses to justify the charges at a hearing before trial.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison has said police suspect a gang motive for the gunfire at the park, though no specific gangs have been identified.
One local defense attorney said Cannizzaro’s office would have faced difficulty proving an intent to kill from the chaotic scene at an unpermitted block party and music video shoot that police were about to break up when shots rang out and turned a festive atmosphere to chaos.
“The DA must have looked at the facts and decided it was too murky to decide who shot whom and what the intent was, because it was a mass incident,” said Craig Mordock, who does not represent any of the defendants named in the indictment. “I think the DA found the appropriate charge for something like that.”
Ten of the 17 shooting victims were younger than 22. The youngest, a 10-year-old boy, was shot in the leg. Nearly all of the victims were shot below the waist, though a 37-year-old man suffered a graze wound to his head.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu described the bloody fracas as an incident of “domestic terrorism.”
The first suspect booked by police in the melee, Joseph “Moe” Allen, was cleared after video evidence showed he was in Houston at the time.
Staff writer Matt Sledge contributed to this report.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.