NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "This is by far the hardest thing we've had to endure," Kendricka Jackson said.
Byron Jackson's family is heartbroken. The 21-year-old was gunned down as he sat down inside a vehicle at St. Claude Avenue and Andry Street Mardi Gras night.
Four others were shot, and Jackson's friend, Jamar Robinson, died in the back seat of the vehicle.
"I mean, they were hanging out. They just were doing what they do. They were having fun. It was Mardi Gras," Kendricka Jackson said.
They were attending a large family gathering in the 5400 block of St. Claude when witnesses tell FOX 8 a group of gunmen walked up and started shooting.
Jackson's family heard the shots.
"Yeah, it sounded like a bomb, and more shooting came behind it. I said, 'What is that?' And that's when I ran inside."
Jackson's mother, Carolyn Jackson, said when she found out Byron was one of the victims, she immediately went to the scene.
"We started running down there. When I got to the car, he was just breathing like that. He was still alive," Carolyn said.
"He was breathing, so he fought till the end," Kendricka said.
Jackson died at the hospital.
"We believe these homicides and several other outbreaks of violence in the Fifth and Sixth districts are linked to vicious gang activity perpetrated by suspects who are known to one another," NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said.
Harrison pledged to dedicate more resources to addressing the spike in murders, especially those that are gang-related.
"I'm upset because I feel like they were labeled. I can tell you for a fact that Byron, Jamar and Fred were not in a gang. They were not," Carolyn said.
Jackson said her son graduated from McDonogh 35, where he played football. At 21 years old, she said her son had already survived being shot three times in April of 2016.
"He was in a wheelchair for a year," Carolyn said.
She said Byron was getting stronger and expressed how he wanted to attend college. Now, her youngest son will never get the chance.
"Just end the violence. Love each other and get along," Carolyn said.
"They were just cold-hearted, and something needs to be done," Kendricka said.