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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — It was a scary day for the Morris Jeff High School Class of 2022 and their families after a shooting broke out once graduation ended on Tuesday.

Just before noon, the NOPD began investigating a shooting that took place following the ceremony, which was held on the Xavier University Campus.

As graduates and their families were leaving, detectives say a fight broke out between two females, then gunfire erupted. It’s unclear if the two fighting were students at the school.

At least 3 people were shot and transported to local hospitals, including an elderly woman believed to be the grandmother of one of the graduates. She was shot in the head and died shortly after the shooting.

Two men who were also shot were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the NOPD, at least 3 suspects have been detained, but no one has been arrested at this time.

The high school graduation ceremony began at 10:00 a.m. and the shooting was reported around noon.

This is the third fight and second shooting at a Louisiana graduation ceremony this month.

On May 19, a fight broke out on the Southeastern Louisiana University campus after the Hammond High School graduation. This fight escalated when a gun was produced. Three people were shot, and one additional person was injured trying to escape the area. A 20-year-old was arrested in connection with this incident.

The next day, May 20, a fight occurred between several large groups at the Carver High School graduation, in New Orleans. A 22-year-old convicted felon was arrested in this incident, and police say the suspect was in possession of a firearm.

Statements from Area Officials

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

After hearing of this shooting, Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement on Twitter.

“For the second time this graduation season in Louisiana, gun violence has marred what should be an exciting day of celebration for high school graduates, their families and teachers. I hope all Louisianans will join me in prayer for the victims of these pointless acts of violence.

“Those who perpetuate these senseless acts of violence will be brought to justice. We must do more to keep our communities safe, and this means we must do more to ensure that those who pose an unacceptable risk of harm to others aren’t able to acquire or keep firearms.

“In light of recent gun violence in Buffalo and Uvalde, gun safety discussions and action involving expanded background checks and red flag laws are very much in order.”

NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr.

“I am outraged and saddened by the callousness shown today outside Xavier University,” NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr. said.

“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. This has got to stop. We must come together as a community, as a country, and address the damage caused by access to guns and to get to the root of the anger and despair that compels individuals to even think of harming others. All 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.”

Patricia Perkins, Morris Jeff Head of School

“This is a horrific tragedy on what should be a day of celebration for our seniors, but Morris Jeff is a strong school community and we will unite to help each other heal,” said Morris Jeff Head of School Patricia Perkins. “Every day, we teach our children to solve their differences with their words and to be compassionate toward each other. 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.”

New Orleas Mayor LaToya Cantrell

“What should have been a celebration that highlights the hard-working students and their families regrettably transformed into another senseless act of gun violence,” said Mayor Cantrell. “My condolences, thoughts, and prayers are with the families of the deceased victim and all the victims impacted by the tragic events at Xavier University today. The New Orleans Police Department, along with Xavier University’s public safety leadership, are investigating the incident, and we are confident that they will continue to conduct a thorough investigation.

Gun violence continues to plague our city, and we will remain laser-focused on leveraging local and federal partnerships to prioritize initiatives that address prevention strategies. However, we also understand that there is a higher degree of personal responsibility that needs to be present in order to de-escalate these situations. As we are seeing all across the country, gun violence is a disease, and the cure requires a collaborative approach involving each of us coming together to make our streets safer.” 

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