An argument again led to a shooting on Bourbon Street early Sunday morning, New Orleans police said, marking the second time in a month that bullets have flown after a fight broke out on the busy French Quarter entertainment corridor.
New Orleans police were searching for a "person of interest" connected to the shooting of a 20-year-old man in a wheelchair that occurred in the 400 block of Bourbon about 12:30 a.m. The man was shot in the stomach; the wound was not considered life-threatening.
Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble said the "person of interest" in a blue and white shirt captured on surveillance video was thought to be involved in the fight that turned into a shooting.
While Sunday's shooting wasn't deadly and injured just one victim, the episode again sparked discussion about whether authorities should entertain the notion of heightened gun control in the area.
The bloodshed in the 400 block of Bourbon, near St. Louis Street, occurred a few blocks from the site of a two-man gun battle early Nov. 27 that left a young Baton Rouge artist dead and nine other people injured on a street packed with revelers.
Less than a week after a gunfight erupted on Bourbon Street, killing one bystander and wound…
A paramedic from Connecticut who happened to be in the area celebrating his 34th birthday Sunday described a scene made hectic by crowds of people, confusion and bloody wounds.
Thomas LaVoie said he was among the first to render aid to the victim when he rushed to apply pressure to the man's abdomen, where he said the bullet exited after ripping through his side.
"It was a little crazy, but once the cops and EMS got there it all went pretty smoothly," he said.
A medical practitioner from Connecticut who happened to be out on Bourbon Street celebrating…
LaVoie said he was bar-hopping with friends and his wife Laura. He had just come out of the restroom of a bar when his wife told him a man had been shot on the street just outside of where they were.
As the crowd ran from the scene, LaVoie ran toward it because, as a medic he knew how to stabilize someone until first responders could arrive. "I pretty much knew exactly what to do," he 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."
The medic did remember a woman talking to the man who was wounded. She said she was a nurse, and LaVoie said the pair seemed "really friendly" with one another. "She rendered no aid but was holding onto his face," he recalled.
The victim, who the NOPD said is "known to frequent the French Quarter in a wheelchair," was taken to University Medical Center. LaVoie said his prognosis seemed good.
"He wasn't in critical condition or anything," LaVoie said, adding that by the time he left the scene, the victim was "stable, alert and communicating to police."
Not all the victims of last month's Bourbon Street shooting were so lucky. Demontris Toliver, a 25-year-old painter and tattoo artist, was killed, and others suffered multiple wounds.
Video surveillance of the November incident showed scores of people fleeing in panic. Police said eight men and two women ranging in age from 20 to 37 were struck in the hail of bullets.
Two suspects were arrested within a week after that shooting, which prosecutors said stemmed from a dispute over a woman.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued a statement Sunday saying that since last month's incident, "we have been working with French Quarter business and neighborhood leadership on major changes to improve safety and security. As an interim step, last week we added temporary increased lighting and security cameras, both of which have been critical in getting the high-quality images of the person of interest in last night's incident. Last night, once again, underscores the need for major changes."
After the November shooting, which happened the same weekend as the Bayou Classic football game, businessman Sidney Torres IV said he had drawn up a plan for nearly two dozen security checkpoints on streets leading into the French Quarter during special events.
Torres, who early last year launched a private security force in the city's most famous neighborhood, proposed checking people with metal-detecting wands, held by members of a security team who would check for guns and run the information on those carrying them through a database of licensed guns and permitted owners.
Torres, who launched his crime task force after another Bourbon Street mass shooting in 2014 and who has long been a critic of Landrieu's approach to public safety, took to Facebook on Sunday to reiterate his proposal.
"We must end this immediately!!!" Torres wrote. "I feel strongly about what I said almost a month ago about putting a short-term plan in place while figuring out a long-term solution."
Torres said crime in the Quarter dropped by 45 percent in the first 60 days that his task force was in operation, partly because of an app he developed for people to report crimes or problems.
"The same thing can happen with the gun violence on Bourbon Street," Torres said. "It's not about boots on the ground."
At least one researcher in New Orleans took it upon himself to survey New Orleans voters on how they felt about a slightly different proposal: designating the French Quarter as a "gun-free zone."
Conducted on Nov. 29 by Tony Licciardi, a research assistant at the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center, the survey found that 71 percent of the 609 registered voters polled thought guns should be banned from the French Quarter altogether.
"It's not necessarily requiring someone to walk through a metal detector. I think that's unreasonable," Licciardi said. "It's more in the broad sense, like a campus is a gun-free zone."
As for LaVoie, it ended up being an eventful birthday, he said, and a memorable beginning to his residency in the Crescent City. He moved to New Orleans a week earlier.
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 that the incident didn't otherwise change his mind about wanting to stay in New Orleans.
"It doesn't bother me much," he said.