Nine children were injured in a shootout at a 12-year-old’s birthday in Louisiana on Saturday, and police are struggling to get to the bottom of it because dozens of witnesses refuse to talk.
Authorities were called to the party for a report of shots fired on Saturday night in LaPlace, La., according to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office. They showed up to find nine victims between the ages of 12 and 17 with gunshot wounds. All of them were taken to hospital and two remained overnight due to their injuries.
Police suspect the violence erupted out of a verbal argument between two rival groups of boys at the party.
As of this writing, no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made because none of the 60 witnesses will speak to police.
“Not one person has given a formal statement,” Sheriff Mike Tregre said in a statement following the incident. “I am asking witnesses to come forward with information to help us learn more about what happened.”
“We’re trying to solve it on our own right now,” Tregre added in an interview with the Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.
“I’m going to be polite — it’s more than frustrating.”
A neighbour told local broadcaster WWLTV that the children were having their party in a garage.
“Everybody I saw taken to the ambulance — they were all kids,” said the neighbour, Rashad Bolden.
Police suspect two guns were used in the shootout, ABC News reports.
“Those injured were a 17-year-old male shot in the arm; a 16-year-old male grazed in the ribs; a 15-year-old male with a graze wound to the ankle; a 15-year-old male shot in the foot; a 14-year-old male shot in the leg; a 13-year-old male shot in the leg; and a 12-year-old shot in both legs,” police said.
“A 16-year-old male shot in the stomach and a 14-year-old male with a gunshot wound to the head remain in the hospital.”
It’s unclear if the birthday boy or girl was involved in the shooting.
Authorities are urging witnesses to come forward and are dangling a $2,500 reward from Crimestoppers.
Tregre has also vowed to continue pursuing the case, despite being stonewalled so far.
“We will not stop,” he said. “Someone’s got to come forward. This cannot just go like this.”
— With files from The Associated Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.