Jail admissions down substantially from Mardi Gras 2009

Posted on Feb 18, 2010 in Local Issues, NOPD

By Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune
February 17, 2010, 7:00PM

With a Super Bowl victory immediately followed by the final week of Carnival, New Orleans has resembled a moveable feast of late.

Amid all the revelry and goodwill, violence took a little vacation too.

Two women, ages 20 and 23, were shot about 7:25 p.m. in the 300 block of Bourbon Street, a busy corner in the French Quarter.

The women told police that they were walking on Bourbon Street when they heard a gunshot, police said. One was shot through the leg; the same bullet hit her friend in the leg.

Assistant Police Superintendent Marlon Defillo said Wednesday that police believe the shooting was accidental. No arrests had been made as of Wednesday night.

Bourbon Street was also the scene of a fire as Mardi Gras drew to a close. At about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire in a two-story house in the 1000 block of Bourbon Street. Three people were inside. All of them were evacuated and the blaze was under control less than an hour later, fire department spokesman Gregory Davis said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

In general, French Quarter crime statistics for the period spanning Feb. 5 to the end of Mardi Gras were up slightly from last year — from 77 to 84 major crimes — but the tally was largely comprised of property thefts, Defillo noted.

Defillo said the Saints’ Super Bowl win has been a “positive impact” on citizens in recent weeks and that the collective jubilation and goodwill has been a factor in quelling violence.

Officers on extended 12-hour shifts — lining parade routes and the streets nearby — made significantly fewer arrests this year.

Forty-five people were arrested on felony charges in the French Quarter, a tally down from last year, when the figure was 93, Defillo said. Police also made 175 misdemeanor arrests in the Quarter, up from 112 last year, and 283 municipal arrests, down from 412 last year.

Citywide arrest numbers also dropped this year. Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office said 1,468 people were brought to jail during the two-week Carnival period, down from 2,125 last year.

Violence overshadowed last year’s Carnival, rearing its head at the end of the annual bacchanal.

One man was fatally shot, and 11 others wounded in shootings on Fat Tuesday alone. The tally included a midday shooting on the St. Charles Avenue parade route that injured seven.

Police Superintendent Warren Riley noted at the time that the parade shooting marred what would have been a successful Carnival season.

This year, two shootings took place in the first full weekend of parades.

A 24-year-old man and a 17-year-old man were wounded on the night of Feb. 6. Both incidents occurred within blocks of the route. Police said they were not related to the parades.

Days later — on Tuesday, Feb. 9 — crowds clogged the French Quarter and downtown area to revel in the Saints’ Super Bowl victory parade.

At about midnight, three people — a 25-year-old man, a 30-year-old woman and a 36-year-old woman — sustained gunshot wounds to the legs while standing near the corner of Bourbon and Iberville streets. Police have not released a motive or suspect in that shooting.

The next major incident occurred on Saturday night in Mid-City, blocks away from the Endymion parade.

Braddock Chambliss, 43, of New Orleans, was fatally shot shortly after 9 p.m. in the 300 block of South Gayoso Street. Police have not released a motive or suspect in that shooting.

Through the weekend, the crowds swelled. And on Tuesday, the celebration hit its pinnacle.

Shortly before 8 p.m on Mardi Gras. police responded a shooting in Central City, far from the tourist-packed French Quarter. Two men approached a 34-year-old man, demanded that he “give it up,” then shot him as he ran away, according to a police log. The man survived with minor injuries.

Brendan McCarthy can be reached at bmccarthy@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3301.

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