Mother's Day turns into nightmare for mass shooting victims' families
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on May 12, 2013 at 11:59 PM, updated May 13, 2013 at 1:00 AM
As she headed toward a Mother's Day second-line parade in the 7th Ward on Sunday afternoon, Linda Lazard of New Orleans didn't feel like celebrating. The following day would mark the 17th anniversary of one of the worst days of her life - the day she discovered her father dead at 57 years old of natural causes.
Her phone rang around 2 p.m.; Lazard's 37-year-old daughter in law was on the other end. "We've been shot," she told Lazard, explaining that her 21-year-old son had been shot in the hip and she had been shot in the elbow.
"This a Mother's Day I just want to forget," Lazard said later Sunday outside a local hospital.
On a day 19 people were shot in the brazen parade gunfire, dozens of victims' family members received similar, dreaded phone calls. Other family members were at the parade with their loved ones when the bullets started flying.
The relatives rushed to local hospitals to pray, cry and await the news. At Interim LSU Public Hospital, where most of the gunshot victims were taken, many family members said they were reminded of prior encounters with New Orleans violence.
At least a dozen injured in Mother's Day second-line shooting gallery (12 photos)
One woman said she was reliving a nightmare she had already been through. She said her son, who took two bullets in the chest at the parade, had previously been shot during another second line parade more than 10 years ago.
"Each time it's been an accident," said the woman, who declined to give her name out of fear of retaliation. "It's praying time. I don't know how my child will turn out because of this. I give it all to God. He is the only one who can do anything."
Another woman said she had been dancing and drinking daiquiris with her 32-year-old sister at the parade when the shots rang out. Four bullets struck her sister's arm, barely missing other vital areas of her body.
"I could've lost her," said the 30-year-old woman, who also declined to be quoted by name. "I lost my only brother in 2011. He was an innocent bystander working on a car," she said, noting Sunday's shooting "reminded me of when my brother was murdered."
"You have an intended target, but you're still shooting like you're hunting ducks in the sky. It's hurtful. Bullets don't know no names."
The woman said the gunmen fired into the crowd of about 300 as if they were playing a popular duck-hunting video game in which players aim at a sky full of ducks and try to shoot as many as possible.
"That's how these boys shoot - pop-pop-pop-pop. They have no idea the meaning of life," she said, with tears streaming down her cheeks. "You have an intended target, but you're still shooting like you're hunting ducks in the sky. It's hurtful. Bullets don't know no names."
Many of the family members said they were outraged.
"If they're beefing, it's not the people at the second-line, so why are they retaliating at the second-line?" said Shannon Roberts, 32. Three of her family members - a 21-year-old nephew, a 37-year-old niece and a 39-year-old cousin - were shot in the arms, stomach and back. "The city needs to stop the violence. It's hurting our families."
Another woman, Erica Garner, whose nephew and sister had been shot, said the shooting exemplified how the city's violence is out of control.
"This ain't nowhere to live," she said. "This place a hellhole."
Crimestoppers has doubled its standard $2,500 reward to $5,000 for information about this crime. In addition, the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau has added $5,000 to that reward, bringing the total to $10,000. Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 504.822.1111.