Everything we know about mass shooting along Mardi Gras parade route in New Orleans

One person was shot dead and four others were wounded after a gunman opened fire along the route of a popular Mardi Gras parade on Sunday, authorities say.

The shooting occurred at about 9.30pm on the 1600 block of Terpsichore St along the St Charles Avenue Carnival parade route, the New Orleans Police Department said in a statement.

Thousands of tourists and local residents who had turned out to watch the Krewe of Bacchus parade ran for cover as at least a dozen shots were fired, according to onlookers.

Police quickly arrested a suspect at the scene and recovered two firearms.

Here’s what we know about the shooting.

‘My whole family ducked’

A large crowd of tourists and local residents had lined the streets to see the Krewe of Bacchus parade, which is traditionally held on the Sunday before Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.

At around 9.30pm, gunfire erupted in front of the Hoshun restaurant, shattering the festive mood at the quintessentially New Orleans celebration.

Witnesses told WWL that at least a dozen shots were fired, sending terrified onlookers running.

“Everyone ran. Everyone took cover. My whole family ducked. I kind of just hovered over my family, like the small children,” paradegoer Andrew Crawford told WWL.

Police work the scene of a shooting at the Krewe of Bacchus parade on Sunday. (AP)
Police work the scene of a shooting at the Krewe of Bacchus parade on Sunday. (AP)

A young girl was treated at the scene, and she and three men and a woman were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds. One of the men later died, authorities said.

“We were able to find two weapons on scene and also apprehended what we believe to be a shooter,” NOPD deputy chief Hans Ganthier said at a news conference on Sunday.

“Whether he’s the sole shooter or not, we will determine through investigation.”

The identify of the suspected gunman has not been released, and no motive has been established.

One eyewitness told WWL there had fights among parade-goers prior to the shooting unfolding that police had broken up.

It’s not yet known if the fracas led up to the shooting, or what connection the suspect had to the victims, Mr Ganthier told the news conference.

After hearing the shots, NOPD officers, members of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department, Louisiana State Police and Department of Corrections, responded immediately, Mr Ganthier said.

As crowds dispersed, police set up cordons around the scene. The streets were littered with confetti, plastic, and personal items that were dropped in the race to find cover.

Mr Ganthier said it was disappointing to see the city’s annual celebration tarnished by gun violence.

“This is really not something we wanted to see. We really wanted this to be a safe Mardi Gras and we’ll continue to work towards that end,” he said.

“However, we really, really want to get the public’s help and if there were other individuals involved, please call Crime Stoppers.”

The shooting occurred about a mile south of the city’s famous French Quarter district.

It came on a weekend of deadly gun violence across the United States, with eight mass shootings recorded over two days, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

It defines mass shootings as incidents where four or more people were shot, not including the shooter.

Safety concerns

Prior to the shooting, local officials had raised fears of potential violence amid rising crime and a shortage of police officers.

The New Orleans Police Department currently has about 900 officers, hundreds fewer than what experts say is required, according to the Associated Press.

The force was bolstered by 125 troopers from elsewhere in Louisiana in an attempt to maintain safety and order during the festivities.

Mardi Gras

The annual Mardi Gras celebrations draw an estimated one million out of town visitors to the New Orleans each year.

Fat Tuesday, which falls on 23 February this year, attracts the largest crowds, but festivities begin weeks earlier on 6 January.

City districts hold dozens of parades and street parties, which ramp up in the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras, held the day before Ash Wednesday, is traditionally a debaucherous prelude to Lent, the six-week long religious fast leading up to Easter.

The Krewe of Proteus rolls on the Uptown route with the theme “Divine Tricksters” in New Orleans on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 (AP)
The Krewe of Proteus rolls on the Uptown route with the theme “Divine Tricksters” in New Orleans on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 (AP)

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, a scaled back celebration was held the following year.

The city suffered a massive spike in Covid cases after the 2020 celebrations, and many in-person parades were cancelled in 2021.

The holiday is also celebrated throughout much of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

The Krewe of Bacchus parade has been a fixture on the Mardi Gras calendar since the late 1960s.

The crew boasts more than 1,500 members and 33 animated super-floats, according to its website.

“The Krewe of Bacchus is revered as one of the most spectacular Krewes in Carnival history,” it says.

The parade had begun at around 5pm on Sunday evening and was nearing the end of its route when the shooting occurred.