Shootings mar New Orleans Halloween revelry

NEW ORLEANS Tue Nov 1, 2011 6:02pm EDT

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NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Violence marred Halloween night in New Orleans, with two men killed and more than a dozen wounded in five shootings, including in popular tourist areas in or near the city's famous French Quarter.

The shootings took place during Halloween night revelry that traditionally consumes Bourbon Street, a bar-lined French Quarter street renowned for its 24-hour party atmosphere, where one man was shot and killed.

Costumed revelers also typically stroll along neighboring Canal Street, a wide, business-lined boulevard that borders the French Quarter, where another fatal shooting took place.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu told a press conference on Tuesday that the city had an ongoing problem with violent crime.

"To the criminals: We're going to catch you," he said. "We're going to arrest you and bring you to justice."

Asked whether he was concerned about the impact on tourism, Landrieu said: "While I'm concerned about the image it portrays, I'm much more concerned about the kids and what it says about the culture of violence in the city."

The New Orleans murder rate was more than 10 times the national average in 2009, according to a report commissioned by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and released this year.

The violence in the heart of the city's tourism center erupted early on Tuesday when a 25-year-old New Orleans man was fatally shot on Bourbon Street, New Orleans Police Officer Hilal Williams said. Seven other people were wounded.

About an hour later, a 19-year-old man died and three other people were wounded in another downtown shooting on Canal Street, Williams said.

Police who were patrolling nearby arrested 24-year-old Baltiman Malcom moments later and booked him on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder, Williams said. She said the Canal Street shooting apparently followed an argument.

She said police were reviewing videos from surveillance cameras to try to determine what sparked the violence on Bourbon Street. Police have made no arrests in connection with the Bourbon Street incident.

In addition to these incidents, three other overnight shootings occurred in residential areas a few miles to the east of the tourism centers.

Williams said police responded to a shooting in which a man was wounded in the leg on Monday evening. Another man was wounded in both legs in a shooting early on Tuesday, and two people suffered head or neck wounds in another shooting on Tuesday morning.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Greg McCune and Cynthia Johnston)

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