Southern University student among those killed in Monday’s Ninth Ward party shooting

Published: Dec. 27, 2022 at 7:01 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Crime tape still litters the scene from a mass shooting that unfolded early Monday morning (Dec. 26) in the 2000 block of St. Maurice Street in the Ninth Ward.

“It’s with extreme sadness that we are at this location, mourning the loss of two families,” New Orleans city councilman Oliver Thomas said.

Six young people were shot at the overnight holiday party, and two 19-year-old victims died.

The young woman killed at the party was identified by family members as Courtney Hughes, a graduate of Edna Karr High School. Her family told Fox 8 that Hughes was attending Southern University in Baton Rouge and was home visiting for the holidays.

Relatives said Hughes spent Christmas Eve with her family, attended a Christmas Day brunch, and later headed to the party on St. Maurice Street, where she was shot and killed by someone yet to be identified or arrested.

“This is sad and it has to stop,” Thomas said.

“Southern University extends condolences to the family and loved ones of Courtney Hughes, a freshman from New Orleans who was majoring in nursing,” the university said in a statement Wednesday. “She was fatally shot on Monday morning while visiting home during this holiday season. Our thoughts are also with others affected by this tragic incident.”

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Monday’s incident marked the 10th mass shooting of four or more people in New Orleans this year.

“By any measure, they’re all bad, but this is the worst,” Metropolitan Crime Commission president Rafael Goyeneche said. “We seem to have waited till the end of the year to get our worst one in.”

Crimestopppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the shooter or shooters in this case.

“These young people were doing what we all do as young people -- enjoying a party, a holiday party -- when someone came in and decided they were going to take lives,” Crimestoppers CEO Darlene Cusanza said.

Hughes was described as a good person who did not deserve what happened to her. New Orleans police continue to investigate, but remain uncertain about a motive or how many people fired weapons.

“In many of the instances, the people that are perpetrating these shootings are not trained in how to use a firearm,” Goyeneche said. “They don’t care about collateral damage.”

The city’s homicide count climbed again Tuesday morning, when police said someone shot and killed a 29-year-old man in the 300 block of Julia Street.

“Another negative milestone for the city, with 275 homicides,” Goyeneche said. “And we still have a few days left in the year.”

According to statistics compiled by the MCC, New Orleans has its highest homicide count since 1996.

“But keep in mind that in 1996, that was pre-Katrina. That was when we had 100,000 more people in the city of New Orleans,” Goyeneche said.

It’s clear that New Orleans, on a per-capita basis, will have the highest or one of the highest homicide rates in the country for 2022.

Thomas said it’s time for the city and its police department to be more proactive, something he says the NOPD agrees must happen.

“If (violent criminals) are going to be aggressive, then we need to be aggressive at stopping them,” Thomas said.

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