NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A gunman shot two men in front of hundreds of Mardi Gras revelers on St. Charles Avenue along a parade route. Both victims died later at a local hospital.
Police have arrested 19-year-old John Hicks for the fatal shooting. Officers say that he confessed to firing multiple shots on the parade route. He was booked with two counts of second degree murder and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence on a parade route.
The incident happened just after 10 p.m. in the 1200 block of St. Charles Avenue. Gunfire erupted in front of a Popeyes restaurant near the Erato Street intersection.
The shooting took place opposite of the neutral ground where floats pass by. The Krewe of Muses was parading along the traditional Uptown parade route when the shooting occurred.
Officers say they heard several gunshots as they were working along the parade route. The New Orleans Police Department responded to find two men with gunshot wounds to the body. Both were rushed to the hospital.
Investigators believe Hicks and his friends were involved in an argument with another group of individuals along the parade route. The argument turned physical and then deadly. When police responded to the scene, they saw someone wearing a black and white hooded sweatshirt running from the scene.
"The subject fled. The officers were right here at the intersection, gave chase to the subject who was apprehended at Martin Luther King and Baronne Street. We recovered a firearm in this incident," New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said.
Results of ballistics testing are pending. Officers performed a gun residue test on scene and Hicks tested positive.
Police said that Peter Dabney, 21, died from a gunshot wound to the chest while in surgery. The 22-year-old victim died in the hospital less than 12 hours later. His name has not been released. Officers say both men were from the New Orleans area.
Parade goers described the chaos of the scene.
"I was hanging a block down and I saw about 20 or 30 people running towards me screaming guns, guns, and screaming run," said one individual. "There was just nothing that they could do."
Thursday's shooting is not the first shooting at a parade on the Uptown route. In 2012, shots were fired during the Chaos parade along St. Charles Avenue. A 16-year-old was arrested in the case after police say he tossed a handgun into a trash can.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the shooting will not deter parade goers. In fact, people were setting up ladders near the crime scene just minutes after the shooting. More than 20 officers were assigned to the area at the time of the shooting. Landrieu called the NOPD's response "picture perfect."
"The aggressive action of the New Orleans Police Department last night indicates that the tide has changed in New Orleans. If you engage in this kind of behavior, if you want to wreak havoc on our city, we are going to get after you and we're going to find you and we're going to prosecute you," Landrieu said.
Hicks bond was set at $1 million.