Gunfire in Jackson Square


It had rained earlier in the evening and the streets were still wet. Light from the club windows and neon signs flashed and reflected, adding to the jazzed up atmosphere. The tourists were laughing and jostling on the sidewalks and spilling out onto street. The horse drawn carriages were mixing it up. The piano and the trumpet cacophony bounced off store front bars as Dr. John and Big Al Hirt wannabes worked their shifts.

It was eleven PM when someone got shot in Jackson Square just across the street from the cathedral. Warren had been at Preservation Hall and was just crossing Royal when he heard the shots. It was close. Almost immediately there were sirens and people begrudgingly made way for the police cars that were pushing though the crowds.

Warren didn’t know why but he started walking in the general direction of the emergency. Was it curiosity or was he looking for some excitement? Within a few moments he was at the park where the red and blue police lights were flashing all around him and crime scene tape was being strung around. Warren suddenly realized he was standing at the front of a small but growing group of onlookers and there, at his feet was a dead man who’s twisted body was face down on the cements. There was fresh blood on the sidewalk.

Warren was shocked. He quickly turned and started back through the crowd that was suddenly dense and pushing toward him. He found himself repeating, “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me,” as he felt himself panic both by what he had seen and the noise and suffocating mob of confusion that had closed in around him.

By the time he was nearing the edge of the mob, he was practically running when he felt himself being grabbed at the upper left arm. Instantly another hand grabbed his right arm and before he could react those hands slid down to his wrists and he was cuffed. An authoritative voice yelled, “Where ya goin’ in such a hurry?”

Warren realized that it was a cop but he could not answer, he was out of breath and panicked. He tried to turn but without the use of his hands he lost his balance and fell, hitting his head on the concrete curb. He lost consciousness.

Warren, a middle school teacher from Lakehurst New Jersey, in town for a three day conference, woke up in a New Orleans hospital emergency room handcuffed to the bed. After some questioning, it was still not clear to the cops why he was running from the scene of a crime, but, within a few hours they were convinced he had not shot that man in Jackson Square.

With a bandaged head and a bottle of pain killers, Warren was free to go. He was not their guy.

04/10/2017 © Don Lehman