Hundreds of people were gathered at a New Orleans playground for a block party and music video shoot when two groups in the crowd opened fire on each other, wounding 16 people in the shocking Sunday evening violence, police said.
Police were on their way to break up a big crowd at Bunny Friend Playground when gunfire erupted at the park in the city's 9th Ward, the police said in a statement Sunday.
Police said 10 people were taken to the hospital in ambulances while another six were taken in private vehicles. Photos of the scene showed emergency workers wheeling some of the wounded to ambulances on gurneys while other people who appeared to be in pain lay on the ground.
Investigators don't know what started the shooting, police spokesman Tyler Gamble said. He said all the victims are listed in stable condition. He said the victims suffered either direct gunshot wounds or were grazed by bullets. No fatalities were reported.
Asked whether gang activity was thought to be involved, Gamble said it "was still too soon to say."
"We know, by speaking with some of the victims, that there were two groups of people shooting at each other," Gamble said.
Joseph Jordan was inside a house across the street from the park with his friend, who gave her first name as Raven, when they heard gunshots. Later someone called Raven and told her that her niece had been shot. The two rushed to the hospital to check on the 14-year-old, who had been shot three times in the leg.
Speaking of the hospital, Jordan said: "It's still crowded back there."
Outside University Medical Center, Kawandra Hayney said she had been driving about two or three blocks from the playground with her daughter when people ran by shooting. Her 14-year-old daughter was hit once in the knee and five times in her backside. Hayney pulled her daughter out of the truck and under it to hide, then into a nearby ditch.
"I saw the police coming, and I ran over to them," she said. She said she later counted seven bullet holes in her truck.
Large stadium lights lit up the park Sunday night as police continued to work the crime scene. Witnesses told police that the gunmen ran off after the shooting was over.
As many as 500 people could have been in the park when the shooting happened, said police chief Michael Harrison. Police earlier said the people were there for an impromptu music video but Gamble later told reporters that while a video was being filmed, the event was a primarily a block party. Gamble said that neither the block party nor the music video had a permit.
Harrison told WDSU-TV that the shooting might have been gang-related. Police had been helping with a parade that had been taking place about a block away from the park, and were able to quickly get to the park, Harrison told the TV station.
“I have no idea who the guys were,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “But you know when you have a bunch of guys that are starting to spray bullets, you know, they’re young groups of individuals who are fighting with each other. Over time, we’ll find out. We’ll know if people will tell us because I’m sure people saw something or there are videos or we are going to go find them. We are going to be very aggressive about it.”
The New Orleans police department asked people who might have any video of the shooting to bring it to police.
"At the end of the day it's really hard to police against a bunch of guys who decide to pull out guns and settle their disputes with 300 people in between them,” Landrieu said at a press conference at the scene. “That's just not something you can tolerate in the city."
Al Jazeera with wire services