Former Mardi Gras Indian chief speaks out against violence in Central City

Former Mardi Gras Indian chief speaks up against Central City violence

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Looking forward to an enjoyable afternoon with his kids, Kendell Trepagnier instead was met with violence and tragedy when two people were shot, one fatally, in Central City Sunday afternoon (Feb. 17).

“Gunshots and police and yellow tape is everywhere,” Trepagnier said.

He said the Lady Jetsetters second line had just passed through the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Freret Street when shots were fired. He and his family were among the crowd.

“You don’t know the minute, hour, or second that anything like that is going to happen,” Trepagnier said.

New Orleans police said just after 1:30 p.m., a 34-year-old was shot in the head and pronounced dead on the scene and a 79-year-old man was hit by a stray bullet in the leg and brought to the hospital.

“This happens too often, it happens too much,” he said.

Trepagnier and his kids fled the area as soon as they heard gunshots and were not injured. But, as a Mardi Gras Indian chief who has paraded through the streets of the city for years with the Black Eagles, Trepagnier said he’s concerned about what these random shootings do to one of the oldest traditions in New Orleans -- marching clubs.

“My kids, you’re scared to bring them to something like this because you never know when the foolishness is going to happen,” Trepagnier said.

He said he fears even if the shootings aren’t related to the parades and second line that they often take place near, they do affect people’s perception of them.

“It worries me," he said. "Where will our culture be in the next 20 years.”

While it hasn’t swayed him from marching, Trepagnier said he sees why others may be afraid to attend, saying scenes like this -- in the middle of a Sunday afternoon -- need to come to an end.

NOPD made an arrest in connection with the double shooting the following day, accusing 23-year-old Norman Lee of the crime.

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