NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A woman is in critical condition after being shot at an RTA bus stop downtown Wednesday afternoon. The shooting happened on South Rampart near Canal, an area that police admit is riddled with drugs and guns.
In the middle of a beautiful, busy February day, tourists passing by on Canal Street are greeted with the sight of a heavy police presence at a crime scene.
Janice D'Annunzio, visiting from Detroit, says, "I think it's really sad."
Police say 17-year-old Eric French opened fire on the bus stop in the 100 block of South Rampart, hitting the 44-year-old victim. Her friend, who rushed to the scene, didn't want to be identified, but explains, "A friend of mine just called and told me that it was somebody that we knew that just got shot right there. She be coming from work, she works off of Bourbon so I know she wasn't the target. This is an older lady."
Police confirm the woman was an innocent bystander.
This shooting is the latest in a string of violent crimes at the intersection. Just last month, police say three teens robbed a man waiting for a bus there, then they jumped on the bus to escape. In September, a fight between two men ended with gunfire. And last March, a 19-year-old was shot in the stomach at around the same time of day as Wednesday's shooting - 3:30 in the afternoon.
"This is an area that we do know for drugs, and drugs do go along with guns, and this is something we focus on in this area," NOPD 8th District Commander Jeffrey Walls said.
The violence is concerning to people who live near the intersection. Resident Alex Smyth says, "I feel unsafe sometimes walking down Rampart towards my apartment at night."
Walls says he has dedicated extra officers to patrol the area saying, "We take an aggressive stance on this and we're not going to tolerate it."
Yet as Smyth points out that a heavy police presence - even before Wednesday night's Carnival parades - didn't keep everyone here safe. "You think that innocent bystanders aren't targets of violent crime," Smyth said.
Police say the alleged shooter, French, hopped on an RTA bus after the incident. The bus was stopped by police, and after a short foot pursuit, he was arrested.
Police point out that French was picked up about 30 minutes after the shooting. He's being held at Orleans Parish Prison without bond. French is booked on one count of illegal carrying of weapons and one count of aggravated battery.