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4 arrested in shooting that left woman, 80, dead after high school graduation

Three adults and a 15-year-old were charged in connection with the May 31 shooting that unfolded after the Morris Jeff High School graduation ceremony, New Orleans police said.

Four people have been arrested in connection with a shooting that left an 80-year-old woman dead after a high school graduation in New Orleans, according to officials. 

An argument in the parking lot of Xavier University’s Convocation Center escalated with gunfire on May 31, not long after students from Morris Jeff High School had received diplomas, the New Orleans Police Department said. 

The woman, Augustine Greenwood, was killed in the shooting, authorities said. Two men were wounded but were expected to survive. All three were there for the graduation ceremonies, according to officials.

Four suspects — three adults and one teenage juvenile — were identified on June 10 in connection with the shooting and warrants were obtained for their arrest. 

One of the suspects, 18-year-old Brandon Rock, surrendered to the New Orleans Police Department the same day. He was arrested and booked into the Orleans Parish Justice Center on one count each of manslaughter and possession of a firearm in a gun-free zone. 

On Tuesday, the remaining three suspects surrendered to police separately. 

Laverne Duplessis, 40, was charged with one count of manslaughter and possession of a firearm and obstruction of justice. She was also arrested on an outstanding warrant out of Jefferson Parish.  

Frank Bartholomew, 49, was arrested and booked into the Orleans Parish Justice Center on one count of obstruction of justice. 

The juvenile suspect, a 15-year-old male, was arrested and booked into the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center on a charge of possession of a firearm in a gun-free zone. 

NBC News has reached out to their attorneys for comment.

New Orleans police said the argument that turned into the shooting is believed to have stemmed from “a pre-existing situation between two juveniles which reignited at this location.”

“Two adults with connections to the juveniles are believed to have armed themselves and fired gunshots in this incident," a spokesperson for the department said.

Police also said Rock was one of the two injured victims in the shooting. 

Three people were detained in the immediate aftermath of the shooting for questioning and weapons that may have been used in the incident were recovered, authorities previously said.

Branden Villavaso, an attorney for Duplessis, told NBC News that he believes his client did not start the shooting. He added her firearm was not used to kill Greenwood.

“We just believe at this time that the manslaughter charge should not have been a manslaughter charge. We don’t believe she’s the shooter that killed Ms. Greenwood. We believe as time goes on, we’ll be able to show and prove that.”

He said that facts will show her involvement in the confrontation was "only in self defense of her child."

Bartholomew's attorney, Nicholas Lindner, said: “As the evidence was presented in court, it’s going to definitively show that he did not commit obstruction of justice, that he had an injured child in his car that he was taking away from the scene to the hospital.”

Lindner said Bartholomew “immediately complied with the officers when they arrived on the scene.”

He said he believes the child suffered a gunshot wound or a wound from ricocheted material from a gunshot. 

The New Orleans Police Department did not previously say a child was injured in the shooting and did not elaborate on the age of the remaining victim.

The shooting came after several others were reported at high school graduations across the nation.

Four people were injured when gunfire erupted after Hammond High School’s graduation on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University on May 19, police said.

That same evening, two people were shot at East Kentwood High School in Michigan as students from Crossroads Alternative High School were graduating, officials said.

And a day earlier, an 18-year-old was fatally shot shortly after graduation ceremonies for Riverdale High School were held at the Middle Tennessee State University, authorities said.