Balcony Bar shooting appears to have targeted reputed gang member, sources say
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The gunfire that wounded six people at Magazine Street’s Balcony Bar late Friday (April 29) appears to have targeted a reputed New Orleans gang member who recently was released after a murder case against him fell apart, law enforcement sources told Fox 8.
Authorities speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that 23-year-old Nairobi Davis was one of two men wounded when gunmen pulled up and opened fire, after they spotted him leaving the Uptown New Orleans bar.
Four women also struck in their legs and lower bodies -- in the hail of an estimated 50 bullets -- appear to have been collateral damage for the gunmen who fled the scene. The women, who range in age from 23 to 35, each arrived for hospital treatment in “stable” condition, New Orleans police said.
The 27-year-old man accompanying Davis is believed to have returned fire, leading the NOPD to describe the 10:17 p.m. incident as a “shootout” in its initial account from the scene. No arrests have been made and police have not identified the gunmen who initiated the exchange.
Neither Mayor LaToya Cantrell nor NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson has commented on the mass shooting in the Garden District, occurring on the first weekend that thousands of tourists have arrived for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Neighborhood resident Kristen Dugas said she and a friend were sitting on a bench, talking outside a nearby Magazine Street business when the incident occurred.
“A car did slow down, (but) no one thought anything of it,” Dugas said. “Nothing was suspicious. And then we heard what sounded like firecrackers, the string of firecrackers that kids set off. So, we stayed where we were.
“It wasn’t until there was a pause and second round (of shots) that we saw people sort of getting out of the way, that dictated we might want to move. ... No one really ran. Everyone just kind of moved kind of slowly like they were confused as to what was happening.”
Davis was arrested six months ago, accused of murdering two men and wounding two others in a quadruple shooting outside a church in the 3800 block of Annunciation Street. Davis was booked Oct. 13, one week after the shooting that claimed the lives of 25-year-old Derrick Copelin and 19-year-old Zernell Lee.
Davis initially was jailed in lieu of a $600,000 bond. But court records show Orleans Parish Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman reduced that bond to $80,000 on Dec. 16. Davis posted that bond and was free the next day.
Nine days after Davis posted bond, 7-year-old Dillan Burton was killed Dec. 26 when a bullet pierced her mother’s car and struck her in the back seat at the intersection of General De Gaulle Boulevard and Hendee Street in Algiers. A law enforcement source told Fox 8 that investigators believe that shooting also was intended to target Davis, as a pickup truck associated with him was seen at the intersection when the shots were fired.
Davis’ bond obligation was dissolved after the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office refused the double-murder case against him on March 15. An explanation for that decision was not immediately available from the DA’s office.
The following statement was issued by First Assistant Ned McGowan:
“The DA’s Office has proven that it can successfully secure convictions, when provided with sufficient evidence. We have secured unanimous convictions in 10 of 13 cases taken to court since jury trials resumed last month. Since DA Williams took office, we have secured over 2,000 guilty pleas and over 90 indictments for a number of violent offenses. But the truth is that there is no prosecutor’s office in this country that can secure a conviction without sufficient evidence; it is thus irresponsible and unproductive to speculate regarding the motives of any particular violent crime in the city. Especially while the NOPD and DA’s Office is working collaboratively to investigate and secure justice in these old and new open cases. Prosecuting someone without adequate evidence is a relic of the past and a practice that has directly contributed to our infamous standing as the mass incarceration capital of the world, and it stands in diametric opposition to the values for which this office stands: fairness, justice, and accountability. We have been clear since day one - our office condemns the cycle of retributive justice that fuels so many violent crimes on the streets of our city. We look forward to continuing to work with our law enforcement partners to develop cases that can be successfully tried, so that we can continue to hold violent offenders accountable.”
Fox 8′s Natasha Robin contributed to this report.
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