NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 19-year-old man opened fire near a popular all-female Mardi Gras parade, killing two people in the latest spate of violence to mar Carnival parties in this city, police said Friday.
John Hicks, of New Orleans, was arrested by police after the Thursday night shooting and faces two counts of second-degree murder, police Superintendent Michael Harrison said. He also was charged with using a firearm in a violent crime on a parade route.
Killed were 21-year-old Peter Dabney and 22-year-old Ivan Williams. They were in a group that got into an argument with Hicks and his friends before the fight turned deadly. Police didn’t say what they were arguing about.
“We’ve seen this iteration of violence before where young men get into an argument over seemingly something not worth even having a fist fight over and it turns into an unfortunate set of lethal circumstances,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Friday.
The mayor praised the police for their quick actions. Carnival parade routes are lined with officers and surveillance cameras, and in this case, barriers were set up and the parade rolled on. In at least eight of the past 11 years, shootings have marred the city’s Mardi Gras celebration.
The shooting happened about 10 p.m. Thursday on St. Charles Avenue on the edge of the city’s museum and art districts as the Muses parade and its masked female riders aboard two dozen brightly-lit floats were passing by.
Angela Matherne, of Thibodaux, was with family taking in the parade — a kickoff to the final Carnival weekend. Matherne told The Associated Press that she didn’t hear the shooting a block away “but saw people running in our direction and police in the opposite.”
Matherne said the parade kept going and she didn’t realize there had been a shooting until later, when she left the route.
Police spokesman Frank Robertson said one victim was struck in the chest and died in surgery, Robertson said. The other was struck in the neck and died at the hospital.
Police say Hicks confessed and that officers saw him toss a handgun before he was arrested after a foot chase. Detectives said Hicks tested positive for gun residue. The public defender’s office declined to comment.
“(Hicks) took something from me that I can never get back,” Sarah Dabney, the mother of Peter Dabney, told The New Orleans Advocate.
In 2013, four people were wounded in a shooting on Bourbon Street on the Saturday before Mardi Gras.
Video at the time showed many partying in costumes before what police described as an argument between one of the wounded and two other men.
The city will host several parades daily through Mardi Gras, which is Tuesday.