NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Five people were injured and a gunman fatally wounded during a shootout in downtown New Orleans Sunday night (Feb. 17), according to New Orleans police.
New Orleans EMS spokesman Lt. Jonathan Fourcade said four people were shot around 6:45 p.m. near the intersection of Canal Street and Elk Place. All four victims were brought to University Medical Center in critical condition, Fourcade said. NOPD later confirmed a fifth person had been shot.
Police updated the conditions of the victims on Monday:
- 17-year-old girl, gunshot wound to the left leg, underwent surgery.
- 34-year-old man, gunshot wound to the left arm and chest, critical but stable condition, underwent surgery.
- 37-year-old man, gunshot wound to the left shoulder, released from hospital.
- 33-year-old man, gunshot wound to the right elbow, released from hospital.
- 32-year-old man, gunshot wound to the right hip, released from hospital.
None of the five victims’ injuries were considered life-threatening, NOPD spokesman Andy Cunningham said Monday.
According to Ferguson, officers spotted a person of interest near the intersection of Canal and Elk streets just after 6:45 p.m. who they believed to be involved with two armed robberies last week. When the uniformed officers attempted to question the person, the suspect took out a gun and started firing at them. An officer and detective returned fire, sparking a shootout during which five innocent bystanders were struck while waiting at a bus stop nearby.
Preliminary police reports released Monday state the officers who first approached the suspect were unable to return gunfire. Shortly after, additional officers arrived and exchanged gunfire with the suspect. the report states. The suspect ran from police and the chase ended in front of Tulane Medical Center where the suspect attempted to hide from officers in a bush. The officers told the suspect to come out, but instead the suspect fired more gunshots.
A responding Louisiana State Police trooper fired back at the suspect, according to the preliminary NOPD report, striking the suspect who was later pronounced dead at UMC.
As of Sunday night, Ferguson said investigators did not know if the victims were struck by the suspect’s fire or the officers.
A joint investigation between the Louisiana State Police Department and NOPD was still in progress Sunday night, and Ferguson said the FBI and independent police monitor were aware of the situation and also investigating. The officers involved in the shooting will be put on “desk duty" until the process is completed, which Ferguson said is standard procedure. State police spokeswoman Melissa Matey said the state trooper involved remained on “normal duty” as of Monday evening.
No officers were injured by the gunfire, but Cunningham said a Louisiana State Police trooper was involved in a wreck on Napoleon Avenue near Baronne Street while en route to the scene. The trooper was not seriously injured in the crash, according to Cunningham.
Two NOPD officers and one state trooper were involved in the shootout, Ferguson said.
Officials did not release the suspect’s name Sunday night, but a local law enforcement source told FOX 8 the suspect was 32-year-old Reginald Bursey. According to the Colorado County Police, Bursey was wanted on felony armed robbery charges and was known to be connected to Houston’s 59 Piru Street gang.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell was on the scene Sunday night and her thoughts were with the innocent victims caught in the crossfires and with the RTA driver, who she said was not struck but was, “shaken up, big time.”
“It was a pretty tumultuous weekend,” Cantrell said, referencing the multiple shootings reported throughout the city over the last few days.
With Mardi Gras quickly approaching, Cantrell acknowledged the concerns people may have, but reassured visitors that New Orleans police are “the worlds best,” when it comes to crowd control and managing major events.
“We’re going to do what we do best, in terms of hosting these large-scale events,” Cantrell said. “So we’re prepared, but these things do happen and we are going to do everything we can possible to prevent them from happening in the future.”
Ferguson said he and the department want to “express our sorrow,” for the innocent bystanders who were harmed, but stressed that officers responded in “the way they were trained to do," and did not fire their weapons until they were fired upon.
“This is something we have to do, and it’s something these officers are going to have to live with, but they’re trained to do this, and we’re going to continue to do what we do best,” Ferguson said.
The investigation temporarily shut down RTA service in the area, according to transit officials. Until police clears the area, inbound streetcar service will stop at Liberty and Canal, all inbound westbank buses will cut back at Common and Loyola and the Loyola streetcar line will be suspended going inbound towards Elysian Fields.
While police were investigating the shooting in downtown New Orleans, a homicide was reported in the east. Few details were immediately available, but NOPD confirmed the shooting just after 8 p.m. in the 6500 block of Almonaster Boulevard.
No further information was immediately available.