7 Wounded by Gunfire on Mardi Gras Parade Route

Michael Kunzelman, AP, February 25, 2009

The shootings of seven people, including a toddler, marred Fat Tuesday partying as ear-piercing gunfire sent revelers ducking for cover and brought Mardi Gras’ final stream of truck floats to a horrifying halt.

The 20-month-old child was grazed by a bullet and wasn’t seriously injured. Two suspects were in custody, police said.

Gunshots erupted near the Garden District about 1:40 p.m. as a stream of truck floats passed by after the last major parade, Rex, had ended. Thousands of people partied in the streets on the last day of Carnival before the violence broke out along the oak-lined Uptown streetcar line.

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Police spokesman Bob Young said the victims–three men ages 50, 33 and 20, two young women ages 20 and 17, and a 15-year-old boy–were taken to area hospitals. Young said the 20-month-old baby was grazed by a bullet and not seriously hurt.

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Police believe the victims were bystanders hit at random, though a motive for the shooting hasn’t been determined, Valencia said. Their names weren’t released.

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“I’m off to Afghanistan this summer. Damn, this is more dangerous than Afghanistan,” said [Dr. Jim] Parry, an Air Force reservist.

Two men, 19-year-old Mark Brooks and 18-year-old Louis Lazone, both of New Orleans, were each booked with seven counts of attempted first-degree murder. Brooks also faces a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Young said. It was not immediately known if the men had attorneys.

Three weapons believed used in the shooting were recovered, Young said.

Two other shootings were reported in the midst of Mardi Gras celebrations. {snip}

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