A woman is dead after gunshots erupted following a high school graduation ceremony for Morris Jeff Community School on Tuesday (May 31), CNN reports.
At approximately 11:45 a.m., New Orleans Police Department officers responded to a nearby call for shots fired in the parking lot of the Xavier University Convocation Center. Three gunshot victims – two men and one woman – were found upon arrival and transported to local hospitals.
One victim, who has been identified as an elderly female, died at the hospital. According to NOPD Chief Deputy Superintendent Christopher Goodly, the shots were fired after a fight broke out in the parking lot.
“There was a fight that broke out between apparently two females,” he said. “Subsequent to this fight, subjects produced weapons, and shots were shot.”
New Orleans Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. released a statement saying that he is both “outraged and saddened” by the events that took place at what was meant to be positive celebration.
“The graduating seniors of Morris Jeff were there to share in their collective achievements and bask in the brightness of their futures, only to have their optimism ripped apart by gun violence,” said Lewis. “All [of] our children have a right to be safe and we must do all we can in our power to protect that right. My heart breaks for the families of the victims, and I implore us all to rally around them in their time of need.”
Head of School for Morris Jeff Patricia Perkins says that the school’s strong community will band together to heal in the wake of the tragedy.
“Every day, we teach our children to solve their differences with their words and to be compassionate toward each other,” she said. “Our graduates will make a difference in this world because they learn to see each other as equal human beings. This resolve is only stronger after today’s violence.”
According to police, multiple people were detained for questioning at the scene. However, no arrests have been made and a suspect and motive are still being investigated.