Two victims were in critical condition and six were stable, the
New Orleans Police Department said. The condition of the ninth
victim was unknown. The two gunmen, who do not appear to have been
hurt, were being hunted by detectives.
The shootout happened around 2:45 a.m. local time after the men
engaged in a verbal dispute that escalated, the department's
superintendent, Ronal Serpas, told reporters.
"These are two cowardly young men who chose to settle a dispute with
total disregard for human life," Serpas said.
"Our officers are working around the clock to identify and arrest
the suspects. ... We will hold them accountable and we will bring
them to justice."
Bullets ricocheted up and down the street in front of Pat O'Brien's
bar and jazz venue Preservation Hall, two well-known New Orleans
haunts, the Times-Picayune newspaper said.
One witness told local broadcaster WWLTV he heard the two men
arguing before the shots rang out.
One of the suspects pulled a gun out "and started shooting at the
guy, then turned around on the crowd and started shooting at us,"
the man told WWLTV.
Bourbon Street runs through the heart of New Orleans' oldest
neighborhood, the French Quarter, a prime tourist destination packed
with bars, restaurants, clubs and souvenir shops.
[to top of second column]
The police department said three officers who were patrolling in the
area responded immediately, and that more officers responded within
four minutes of the first call.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city's historically high
murder rate had been brought down to near a 30-year low, and that
authorities would not rest until the suspects were in custody.
"I am confident that between video evidence and eyewitness accounts,
we will bring the perpetrators to justice," he said.
"These kinds of incidents will not go unanswered."
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York and Daniel Wallis in
Denver; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, John Stonestreet, Matthew Lewis
and Paul Simao)
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