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Published: Wednesday, 2/25/2009

Toddler, 6 others shot at parade for Mardi Gras; 2 men arrested

ASSOCIATED PRESS
An unidentified shooting victim is aided after gunfire broke out following the last major parade of New Orleans' Mardi Gras. Seven people were injured and two men were taken into custody. An unidentified shooting victim is aided after gunfire broke out following the last major parade of New Orleans' Mardi Gras. Seven people were injured and two men were taken into custody.
SAM HORTON / AP Enlarge

NEW ORLEANS - Mardi Gras erupted into chaos yesterday when a series of gunshots struck seven people, including a toddler. The child was not seriously injured and two suspects were in custody, police said.

The shootings happened near the Garden District about 1:40 p.m. after the last major parade of the celebration, Rex, had ended. A stream of truck floats that follow the parade was passing by when the gunfire broke out.

"It sounded like a string of fireworks, so I knew it was more than one shooter," said Toni Labat, 29, a limousine company manager. She was with her two children, a 2-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl.

"Everybody was petrified. They hit the ground, the floats stopped, everybody on the floats ducked," Ms. Labat said.

Ms. Labat said one man dragged himself on the ground screaming for help after being wounded and another man was gasping and was bleeding from his mouth.

Police spokesman Bob Young said the victims - men ages 50, 33, and 20, women ages 20 and 17, and a 15-year-old boy - were taken to hospitals. The conditions of all the victims were not immediately available, but Mr. Young said the 20-month-old baby was grazed by a bullet and was not seriously hurt.

Dr. Jim Parry, 41, a surgeon who was with a gathering of doctors near the shooting site, ran over to tend to one man who he said had been shot in the abdomen. "He kept asking me, 'Was I shot? Was I shot?'•"

Paramedics arrived and took over for Dr. Parry, an Air Force reservist.

"I'm off to Afghanistan this summer. This is more dangerous than Afghanistan," Dr. Parry said.

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

Three weapons believed used in the shooting were recovered, Mr. Young said. It was not immediately clear whether the gunfire was random or if the shooters were aiming for the victims or each other.

The violence marred what had been a generally peaceful day of revelry in which hundreds of thousands of people partied in the streets on the final day of Carnival.



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