Police: Man, 19, sought in N.O. parade shootings

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police and federal authorities were searching early Tuesday for a young man who is suspected of opening fire at a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans, wounding 19.

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas identified the suspect late Monday as Akein Scott, 19, of New Orleans. Referring to blurry surveillance camera images of the mass shooting, Serpas said police have “multiple identifications of Akein Scott as the shooter” seen in the film.

Serpas said officers would be searching all night and into Tuesday for Scott, whom he called “no stranger to the criminal justice system.” He urged the teen, who has previous arrests on firearms and drug charges, to give himself up.

“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 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.

Serpas said it was too early to say whether he was the only shooter.

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 the 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.

Video released early Monday shows a crowd gathered for a 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. Two children were among those wounded.

A police news release says 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 Scott, who was arrested this past March, had been convicted on any of those charges.

Serpas said ballistic evidence gathered at the scene was giving them “very good leads to work on.”

Last week, law enforcement officials touted the indictment of 15 people in gang-related crimes, including the death of a 5-year-old girl killed by stray gunfire at a birthday party a year ago.

The city’s 193 homicides in 2012 are seven fewer than the previous year, while the first three months of 2013 represented an even slower pace of killing.

On Monday night, 100 to 150 people gathered for a unity rally and peace vigil in the wake of Sunday’s shootings. Some residents stood in their doorways or on their steps. At one point, trumpeter Kenneth Terry played, “O For a Closer Walk With Thee.”

Robin Bevins, president of the ladies group of the Original Four Social Aid and Pleasure Club, said she and members of her organization came to the rally to show solidarity.

“This code of silence has to end,” said Bevins, who’s also a member of the city’s Social Aid Task Force. “If we stand up and speak out, maybe this kind of thing will stop.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu walked into the area, greeting people, shaking hands and stopping to talk with some residents before addressing the crowd.

“We came back out here as a community to stand on what we call sacred ground,” Landrieu said. “We came here to reclaim this spot. This shooting doesn’t reflect who we are as a community or what we’re about.”

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