Investigators believe drugs were the motive behind a Lower Ninth Ward drive-by shooting that killed a man and a teenager and wounded five other people, the New Orleans police chief said Monday.
All but three victims are out of the hospital. A 32-year-old woman and her two boys, ages 2 and 4, remained in critical condition, Superintendent Ronal Serpas said.
"Children should be, ought to be and will be off limits," Serpas said.
Terrance McBride, the 33-year-old man who was slain Sunday on a porch in the 5400 block of Burgundy Street, was the target and had a gun, police said. The other people were just innocent bystanders, Serpas said.
Gathering in solidarity, residents of the Lower Ninth Ward prayed for peace Monday.
"The first thing I heard was pow, pow, pow. They were firing at the house over there. I was sitting on a porch and the first thing I could do was look down there," said Diamond Powell.
Powell said she took off running into her home and moments later, she heard another round of gunshots.
"I ran down there and I could see Jasmine on the ground. I ran to her but she was just dead off the bat," Powell said.
Jasmine Anderson, 16, was visiting a friend when the shooting started. Anderson's mother, Terrell Reese, ran to her daughter's side, but it was too late.
"We were trying to comfort her. I kept saying,' Jasmine don't leave momma, don't leave momma.' I was shaking her and people were telling me, 'don't move her, don't move her,'" Reese said.
"When they started firing, another dude got out of the car and walked right up to him and just unloaded on him. He then walked back to the car and they sped off," said a witness.
Neighbors began jumping in to help the children who were hurt, describing the scene as horrific.
"All we heard was, 'I was shot in the face. I was shot in the face.' That was the 4-year-old little boy," said Powell. "Another man picked him up. The girl was like, 'my brother' and he said, 'I got your brother'. The 2-year-old was shot in his head. I remember seeing him laying back and his eyes were rolling in the back of his head, but he didn't go out. He was still up. We were like, 'you've got to keep breathing.'"
People who live nearby say the neighborhood used to be quiet, but they say things have changed in the last few years.
"They have conflicts. They just had a fight two weeks ago. Everybody was thinking it was going to die down, but it came right back and people are getting shot," said another witness.
"They don't' care about the kids these days," said Lillie Reese. "I never thought I'd lose my little niece to something like this."
Anderson's family is hoping the gunmen will turn themselves in soon.
The woman who is hospitalized works at the Bourbon Heat club on Bourbon Street, where a fundraiser is set for Wednesday at 6 p.m. Confirmed performers include Kermit Ruffins, Rockin' Doopsie and Big Freedia.
Club owner Angelo Farrell said the $20 cover charge and all other proceeds will go toward the medical expenses of the woman and her children.
"(She was) always on time for work, always with a smile on her face," said Farrell. "She just requested an extra shift to work to help get extra money for her family at 6 o'clock yesterday afternoon, she sent us a text message. She's in desperate need of money and assistance. She's a hardworking mother trying to support her family."