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People react on the scene of a shooting that happened in the 5100 block of St. Claude Avenue involving possibly five victims suffering from gunshot wounds, one of which died on the scene, in New Orleans, La., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

A fight between two groups of drug dealers over territory in the Lower 9th Ward led to a deadly quintuple shooting that capped off an exceptionally bloody 2018 Mardi Gras day in New Orleans, authorities said in federal court records that were unsealed last week.

The investigation that generated the documents has already produced federal and state charges against two suspected members of the “Tupelo Money Boys,” so named because authorities say they hang out and deal drugs on Tupelo Street.

Kendall Barnes and Derrick Groves face state charges of murder as well as attempted murder in connection with the shooting that killed Jamar Robinson and Byron Jackson in the 5400 block of St. Claude Avenue the night of Feb. 13, 2018, while federal prosecutors press a case centering on gun and drug charges against the same defendants.

But warrants in the case that were unsealed April 9 identify two more alleged accomplices: Jarrett Rainey and Bryan Coleman, who — like Barnes and Groves — are suspected of serving as a shooter, a driver or a lookout in the fatal attack on St. Claude.

They also reveal the name of the alleged rivals of the Tupelo Money Boys: the Park Boys, so named because of their stomping grounds near a park on Forstall Street, who are accused of waging one half of a war that prosecutors say has fueled much of the gun violence in the Lower 9th Ward.

There is no explanation in the court record for the decision to unseal the warrants now.

But on Thursday, a federal grand jury added Groves to a gun and drug indictment that previously named only Barnes, his co-defendant in state murder and attempted murder charges filed in January. The new federal indictment also refers to two other defendants by initials matching those of Rainey and Coleman.

The federal warrants don’t describe the alleged feud pitting the Tupelo Money Boys against the Park Boys in detail. But, citing interviews with confidential informants, information gleaned from undercover drug buys, and surveillance, the documents assert that the two groups have been locked for years in a “retaliatory” cycle of violence.

It allegedly led to the bloodshed on Mardi Gras night in 2018, when Robinson and Jackson were shot and killed with AK-47-style rifles while sitting in a car near St. Claude Avenue and Andry Street. Three other men were wounded.

While authorities stopped short of calling Robinson and Jackson members of the “Park Boys,” the warrants said they were at a “known family residence for an associate” of that set.

The following month, an informant who had been arrested by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents on a count of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon gave a statement identifying Barnes as one of the shooters.

In December, another informant who was in federal custody on gun and drug charges claimed to have seen Barnes and Groves fire the rifles that killed Robinson and Jackson.

Authorities later picked up Barnes, Groves, Rainey and Coleman on various criminal counts. During separate interviews, they all claimed to have been together throughout the day on Mardi Gras but denied being involved in the deadly shooting on St. Claude or knowing anyone who was.

Yet, using cellphone provider data, authorities determined that one of Barnes’ cellphones was near the scene of the quintuple shooting shortly before it erupted.

That made the feds suspect that all four were involved in the deadly ambush, and they sought permission to get service provider data for several more phones associated with the group.

It was not immediately clear what those requests may have turned up, and neither Rainey nor Coleman has been charged in connection with the shooting. 

For now, Barnes and Groves have pleaded not guilty to the state charges of murder and attempted murder.

Barnes has also pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and is set to be arraigned alongside Groves on Wednesday in connection with the indictment that added Groves to the case.

Robinson and Jackson were among three men killed on the final day of Carnival last year in two separate shootings. The other shooting occurred along the Uptown parade route. A third shooting that day left two men wounded about a block away from the parade route in the Central Business District.

All of those shootings led to arrests.


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.