New Orleans mayor seeks help after Bourbon mayhem

KEVIN McGILL, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Tuesday he has asked Gov. Bobby Jindal to permanently assign a beefed up contingent of 100 state police to the city, and he renewed calls for more federal law enforcement aid after a weekend Bourbon Street gunfight that injured 10 people — most of them visitors to the tourist-dependent city.
One woman, from the south Louisiana city of Hammond, remained in critical condition Tuesday, police said in a news release. Four others were hospitalized in stable condition: a 21-year-old woman from Australia, a 35-year-old man from Mississippi, a 19-year-old woman from Arkansas and an 18-year-old man from New Orleans.
Other victims, not hospitalized, included two New Orleans-area men; a teenage girl and a woman from Alabama; and a Florida man.
No arrests have been made.
At a news conference with Landrieu, police chief Ronal Serpas said investigators continue to look at surveillance video from Bourbon Street buildings and he expressed confidence that the two men who fired the guns early Sunday will be captured. U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite urged anyone with knowledge of the crime to come forward.
The shooting happened at about 2:45 a.m. as tourists walked the historic street of century-old, neon-bedecked buildings housing bars, restaurants, shops and strip clubs in the heart of the city's oldest neighborhood.
Serpas said police arrived within seconds, and that nine officers — four on foot and five on horseback — were assigned to Bourbon Street at that time.
Even so, Serpas and Landrieu both said they would like to see the city police force, now around 1,200 after years of attrition, beefed up to around 1,600. Serpas said a contingent of 500 extra officers will be on duty, working in key spots as thousands of visitors hit town for the annual Essence Festival, which begins Thursday. He said the beefed up manpower will be achieved with overtime pay and pulling personnel from other parts of the department, but stressed that no neighborhood will lose patrol officers.
State police also will be helping with Essence security.
Landrieu acknowledged that the shooting put the city in a bad light but stressed that gun violence is a nationwide problem. He said he has spoken with Essence officials, that they know gun violence is not solely a New Orleans problem, and that they are confident that visitors will be protected.
And he stressed that his concerns are not limited to Bourbon Street.
"I am concerned when anybody gets hurt in the city of New Orleans," Landrieu added. "And wherever they get hurt."

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