NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Police late Monday identified a 19-year-old man as a suspect in the shooting of about 20 people during a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans, saying several people had identified him as the gunman captured by surveillance camera videos.
Superintendent Ronal Serpas said officers were looking for Akein Scott of New Orleans. He said it was too early to say whether he was the only shooter.
"We would like to remind the community and Akein Scott that the time has come for him to turn himself in," Serpas said at a news conference outside of police headquarters.
A photo of Scott hung from a podium in front of the police chief. "We know more about you than you think we know," he said.
The mass shooting showed again how far the city has to go to shake a persistent culture of violence that belies the city's festive image. Earlier, police announced a $10,000 reward and released blurry surveillance camera images, which led to several tips from the community.
"The people today chose to be on the side of the young innocent children who were shot and not on the side of a coward who shot into the crowd," Serpas said.
The superintendent said SWAT team members and U.S. marshals served a searched warrant at one location looking for Scott, but didn't locate him.
He vowed that police would be "looking for Akein Scott for the rest of the night and tomorrow... and I would strongly recommend that Akein turn himself in."
Angry residents said gun violence — which has flared at two other city celebrations this year — goes hand-in-hand with the city's other deeply rooted problems such as poverty and urban blight. The investigators tasked with solving Sunday's shooting work within an agency that's had its own troubles rebounding from years of corruption while trying to halt violent crime.
"The old people are scared to walk the streets. The children can't even play outside," Ronald Lewis, 61, said Monday as he sat on the front stoop of his house, about a half block from the shooting site. His window sill has a hole from a bullet that hit it last year. Across the street sits a house marked by bullets that he said were fired two weeks ago.
"The youngsters are doing all this," said Jones, who was away from home when the latest shooting broke out.
Video released early Monday shows a crowd gathered for a boisterous second-line parade suddenly scattering in all directions, with some falling to the ground. They appear to be running from a man in a white T-shirt and dark pants who turns and runs out of the picture.
Police were working to determine whether there was more than one gunman, though they initially said three people were spotted fleeing from the scene. Whoever was responsible escaped despite the presence of officers who were interspersed through the crowd as part of routine precautions for such an event.
Police said in a news release Scott has previously been arrested for illegal carrying of a weapon, illegal possession of a stolen firearm, resisting an officer, contraband to jail, illegal carrying of a weapon while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of heroin.
It was not immediately clear whether he had been convicted on any of those charges.
"Akein is no stranger to the criminal justice system," Serpas said.
Serpas said that ballistic evidence gathered at the scene was giving them "very good leads to work on."
Witness Jarrat Pytell said he was walking with friends near the parade route when the crowd suddenly began to break up.
"I saw the guy on the corner, his arm extended, firing into the crowd," said Pytell, a medical student.
"He was obviously pointing in a specific direction; he wasn't swinging the gun wildly," Pytell said.
Pytell said he tended to one woman with a severe arm fracture — he wasn't sure if it was from a bullet or a fall — and to others including an apparent shooting victim who was bleeding badly.
Three gunshot victims remained in critical condition Monday, though their wounds didn't appear to be life-threatening. Most of the wounded had been released from the hospital.
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