- Associated Press - Sunday, February 10, 2013

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Gunfire wounded four people on New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street as a costumed crowd partied amid the countdown to Mardi Gras, sending people running, police and bystanders said.

Four shots rang out rapidly Saturday night, followed by screams as some in the crowd staggered into one another and a nearby wall, video taken by a bystander and released by police showed.

Authorities said in an email Sunday that an argument involving one of the victims led to the shooting. They described the video — released early Sunday — as showing two men leaving the argument and returning with a third before the gunfire erupted.

No arrests were immediately reported, and police said they were seeking the three men who fled.

The wounded were two men and two women, New Orleans Police spokesman Frank B. Robertson said. One male victim was in guarded condition Sunday with shots to the abdomen, thigh and pelvis, Mr. Robertson said. The second man was shot in the buttocks, one woman was shot on the chin and right foot, and the second woman was shot on the toe, according to Mr. Robertson’s statement.

Police said late Saturday that the most severely wounded man was undergoing surgery while the others were stable. None was identified by age or name.

The shooting came on the last weekend of partying before Mardi Gras, the Fat Tuesday celebration that is the signature tourist event of the year in New Orleans. And for thousands, the partying continued despite the shooting.

New Orleans has been plagued for years by violent crime, including gun violence that has soared since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.

In 2011, sixteen people were shot and at least two killed in Halloween shootings in New Orleans. One of those killed — a 25-year-old local resident — was shot near the famous Chris Owens nightclub, about a block away from Saturday’s incident.

Police placed the Saturday shooting in the 400 block of Bourbon Street.

Patrick Clay, 21, a Louisiana State University student, told The Times-Picayune that he was standing on the corner of Bourbon Street on Saturday night when suddenly he saw a crowd running and people screaming that there had been a shooting.

“Everyone immediately started running, and the cops immediately started running toward where people were running from,” Mr. Clay said. “I was with a group of about seven people, and at that point we all just kind of grasped hands and made our way through the crowd as soon as possible.”

Some bartenders and revelers said the block of Bourbon Street where the shooting occurred was closed for a time while detectives investigated, but partying resumed hours later across that stretch.

Julia Rosenthal, a 19-year-old from Westchester, N.Y., had mixed feelings about hanging out in the French Quarter after the shooting.

“It’s not an OK thing that happened, and it’s definitely scary, but I’m not going to let it affect my night,” she said.

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