NEW ORLEANS — A shooting outside a well-known New Orleans restaurant Friday killed an employee, and one bullet penetrated the restaurant and wounded a Chicago tourist visiting for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Interim New Orleans police Superintendent Michelle Woodfork told reporters Saturday that the shooting happened outside Mandina’s Restaurant in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood. No suspects have yet been named.
Woodfork said police believe two assailants targeted the waiter, whom family members identified to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans as 23-year-old Hilbert Walker III.
A private security guard returned fire, Woodfork said, and was not injured. Diners told local news outlets that they dived to the floor seeking cover and that police didn’t let them leave for more than an hour.
The 54-year-old Chicago woman was visiting for Jazz Fest and was at Mandina’s “to celebrate the birthday of a friend,” when she was shot, Woodfork said. She did not say what condition the tourist was in.
The shooting caused alarm in New Orleans, a city with an economy dependent on tourism. It came on the first day of the two-weekend Jazz Fest, one of the busiest tourist periods in the city.
“This was an isolated incident that did not occur in the vicinity of the festival,” Woodfork said.
The restaurant announced it would be closed Saturday and Sunday.
The police department has about 150 to 180 officers providing security and directing traffic at the festival, Woodfork said. It’s held at the Fair Grounds Race Course, about 2 miles from the restaurant.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell sent her condolences to the victims in a statement.
“A celebratory day was later marred by another senseless act of violence,” she said.
Concerns about crime and poor city services recently drove a racially polarizing effort to recall Cantrell, a Black Democrat who is the first woman to lead the city. That effort failed in March after organizers fell far short of the number of signatures required to force a recall election.