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12 May, 2013 20:16

19 wounded in New Orleans Mother’s Day parade shooting

Almost two dozen people including two 10-year-old children have been injured after as many as three gunmen opened fire at a 'second line' of a parade on Mother’s Day in New Orleans. Three people remain in critical condition following the shootout.

Up to 400 people were participating in the neighborhood festival on Frenchmen Street, situated in the east of the city, when several shots were fired. The incident occurred around 2pm local time (19:00 GMT) on Sunday.

"We have mothers, sisters, little children who were shot," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told local press.

Nine people were immediately taken to University Hospital by emergency responders, eight of whom were suffering from gunshot wounds, according to local channel WWLTV. One more being treated was injured in an attempt to escape from the shooting.

A New Orleans doctor confirmed to reporters that he has had to treat 'severe injuries' including wounds to the chest and abdomen.

Further victims were taken to different hospitals in the region.

The majority of the injuries are not considered life-threatening, and no fatalities have been confirmed, but three are reportedly in a critical condition.

New Orleans police are searching for suspects in the shooting. Up to three gunmen are still at large.

Watch the video capturing the moment shots were fired at a New Orleans parade (WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE)

Watch the video of the aftermath of the shooting in New Orleans (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)

Police confirmed the overall number of casualties stood at 19, and the injured included two 10 year old children, one boy and one girl, who was grazed on her side by a bullet.

“There was a 10-year-old girl we believe who suffered a graze wound, and she is in good condition and under care. Three to four people are in surgery right now, and we have no indication of what their condition is, but we also have no indications at this time that anyone will perish from today’s events,” New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronald Serpas told local station WDSU.

“The shots just started ringing out, and everybody just started running, and the next thing I heard, 10-15 people got shot,” one witness told the channel.

'Scariest thing I've ever seen'

Anthony Reed, a Louisiana State University sociologist was visiting New Orleans from Baton Rouge with his friends. They were dancing in the middle of the crowd when the parade turned into the Frenchman area.

"Then we heard pop pop...," Reed said in an email to RT. "Not many people reacted to the first ones, but then people all around me fell. Others started running. I ran to get behind a police state trooper vehicle and on the way the baby stroller tipped over. I stopped real quick to pick it up and give it back to the mother... Didn't get her name or anything, I was running out of pure fear.”

He stayed near the police vehicle for a little while before realizing his friends weren’t around, and then went back to find them.  “I was relieved to see them safely standing there,” he said. “We all walked over to the bike shop, kind of shaking and scared, and just sat there for a while and called our mothers.”

"Scariest thing I've ever seen," he concluded.

Police believe three suspects were responsible for the gunfire, who were seen fleeing towards Claiborne Avenue. A door-to-door search is being conducted in the hopes of tracing one or more of them.

NOPD's Serpas described the appearance of one of the suspects involved.

“One of the suspects’ descriptions would be a dark-skinned male, 18 to 22 years old, short hair and wearing a white shirt and blue jean shorts,” he said, going on to announce that the shots may have rang out from "maybe two different types of weapons.”

Gang-related violence

The FBI confirmed that it believed the shooting to have been street violence-related, rather than a terrorist act. Former CIA agent Glenn Carle reaffirmed this belief, telling RT that the violence didn't seem to bear any terrorist trademarks.

“It doesn’t have any of the hallmarks or modus operandi of terrorist groups that I ever worked against, that we know about in the intelligence community in the United States. It seems –knowing nothing more than the media reports – to have been either astoundingly amateurish by a terrorist – and I don’t think that’s the case, or more likely a gang-related kind of violent act,” he said.

DEVELOPING: 100 people at New Orleans Mother's Day parade when 6 to 7 shots ran out -@nolanewsbit.ly/10Caeo7twitter.com/NewsBreaker/st…

— NewsBreaker(@NewsBreaker) May 12, 2013

NEW PHOTO: 3 suspects believed to be involved in mass shooting at New Orleans Mother's Day parade (Pic: @nolanews) twitter.com/NewsBreaker/st…

— NewsBreaker(@NewsBreaker) May 12, 2013

Not everyone, however, accepts the FBI statement.

Wide Awake News founder Charlie McGrath said the FBI's handling of the attacks at the Boston Marathon should be taken into account.

“I don’t know how much faith I would have in the FBI,” McGrath told RT. “They had indications as to what was going on in Boston, we know now, years before it [explosions that killed three people and injured 264 on April 15 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon] occurred, and from information they were getting from other countries.”

“So faith in the FBI coming out saying it’s terror-related, not terror-related, it’s not something I would hang my hat on,” he added.

New Orleans has one of the highest violent crime rates in the US.  Just one week ago, police were called out to investigate a triple shooting near the corner of Frenchman street.

“One of the terrible problems in American society, certainly, is the pervasiveness of guns and then of violence -there’s much more gun violence in the US than other societies. As I understand it, there were 10 policemen spread throughout the crowd…so the police presence seems to have been quite conscious...addressing gun violence as a big issue in the United States,” said Carle.

Crowd sourced investigation

Police and local media have appealed for anyone with information on the incident to contact crime stoppers in the hope of tracing the gunman, or gunmen.

An initial $2,500 cash reward was initially offered, which was later raised to $10,000 amid the massive manhunt for parade shooting suspects. The money is offered to anyone who can provide information that will help track down and arrest the suspects.

In the same way investigators of the Boston Marathon Bombings appealed for crowdsourced photographs, police have urged anyone with any images from the 'second line' of the parade to step forward.

The ‘second line’ is the crowd of parade goers which follows the official participants. NOPD Superintendent Ronald Serpas told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that there may have been up to 400 people in it, with some 200 in the area of the shooting at the time.

NEW PHOTO: 3 to 4 people in surgery, 12 people shot at NOLA Mother's Day parade; 3 suspects on the loose - @nolanewstwitter.com/NewsBreaker/st…

— NewsBreaker(@NewsBreaker) May 12, 2013

Woman says 2 gunshot.victims collapsed in her arms on this porch. One was shot 6 times twitter.com/MHernandezWWL/…

— Monica Hernandez (@MHernandezWWL) May 12, 2013