Published January 08, 2015
A 20-year-old man was named as a suspect Friday in a gunfight that erupted on Bourbon Street, killing one bystander and wounding nine others on the thoroughfare of nightspots that is one of the city's biggest tourist draws.
A police news release says Trung T. Le, from the nearby city of Belle Chasse, is suspected of firing the first shot in the Sunday morning shooting spree.
A warrant charging him with one count of first-degree murder and nine counts of attempted first-degree murder was issued Friday. Police chief Ronal Serpas issued a warning that anyone harboring him would be charged as an accessory.
U.S. marshals were aiding in the search for Trung Le, who turns 21 on Aug. 10.
Serpas said he is confident others involved in the gunplay also will be identified and caught. What sparked the gunfight, and whether more than one other person was involved, remained unclear.
Most of those hit in the Sunday morning spree were visitors to the city, including Brittany Thomas, 21, from the south Louisiana city of Hammond. She died Wednesday. Others were from Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas Florida and Australia. One person remained hospitalized Friday in stable condition.
The shooting happened in the heart of the city's tourist-friendly French Quarter neighborhood days ahead of the Essence Festival — a major summer tourist event that opened Thursday. A contingent of 30 state police was assembled Wednesday in the city to help with patrols during the holiday weekend. And the head of the state police announced Thursday that a total of 50 state troopers and other state public safety officers would be redeployed from this weekend through Labor Day to help city police.
The number of slayings in the city declined last year and appears on pace to shrink again this year. But violent crime continues to be a major problem in New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu earlier this week acknowledged the need to beef up a police force that has diminished over the years from around 1,600 to 1,200, adding that the City Council has approved money to hire 150 new officers.
After the shootings, police released surveillance camera videos showing the gunfire and resulting mayhem. Police said they had developed "persons of interest' thought to have knowledge of the case, but there was no sign of a break until Friday afternoon's announcement.
Police said Detective Bruce Brueggeman obtained an arrest warrant for Trung Le Friday morning. Police continued to seek any pictures or videos taken in or around the crime scene at the time of the incident.