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Denzel Mitchell, who was raised with Demontris Toliver, ties a balloon to a lamp post as people gather for a vigil at Bourbon Street and Iberville Street for Toliver, who was killed in a shooting in the early morning in the French Quarter section of New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016.

Urban Violence

At Least 526 People Were Shot in America over Thanksgiving Break

One victim was celebrating his 25th birthday on Bourbon Street. Another was a 2-month-old child fatally shot by her father in an Alaska hotel room.

The streets of New Orleans’s French Quarter had swelled with tourists after the annual Bayou Classic football game early Sunday when shots rang out. An argument that started somewhere else washed up on Bourbon Street and became a gun battle. One person died, another nine were wounded. None of the victims were the intended targets.

Demontris Toliver was a 25-year-old a tattoo artist from Baton Rouge who was visiting the town where he grew up to celebrate his birthday. Toliver had just left his hotel with his fiance when bullets hit him in the chest and shoulder.

“That was my left hand,” one of his brothers, Joshua Davis, told the Times-Picayune. “That was my everything.”

Among the wounded was 20-year-old Brittany Ben, who was shot five times while shielding her nephew from the gunfire. Two bullets remain lodged in her body. Her nephew was shot twice. “She went out there to have fun, caught five bullets and she didn’t deserve that at all,” Brittany’s mother told a local CBS affiliate.

Nationwide, at least 526 people were shot from Thursday to Sunday in America, 153 of them fatally, according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit website that scours more than 1,200 sources to track gun deaths and injuries in the U.S. The tally is likely to climb as more reports come in.

The carnage came in hundreds of episodes of everyday gun violence that erupted in streets, living rooms, and nightclubs across the country. In at least six instances, including the shooting on Bourbon Street, bullets struck four or more individuals — defined as a mass shooting by GVA.

Chicago, which has been ravaged by gun violence, saw one of its most violent Thanksgiving breaks in years: 74 people were shot, eight of them fatally. Last year, 28 people were shot, and eight died. The city is on pace to surpass 4,000 shootings in the next few weeks.

Notable incidents from elsewhere in the U.S. include:

  • On Thanksgiving Day, seven people were shot, two of them fatally, at a park in Louisville, Kentucky, the site of a youth football tournament. The gunfire was sparked when a man bumped into another man who was carrying a gun.
  • On Friday, 22-year-old McKay Hutton fatally shot his 54-year-old mother, 22-year-old wife, and 2-month-old child in a Hampton Inn in Fairbanks, Alaska, before killing himself. A childhood friend of Hutton’s said his role in the murder-suicide was “hard to believe.”
  • Also on Friday, a man was fatally shot after he tried to stop a man from beating a woman in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas.
  • On Saturday, a 13-year-old boy in Niota, Tennessee, was unloading a rifle when it discharged, killing his 17-year-old sister.
  • On Sunday, seven people were wounded in a roaming gun battle in Kansas City, Missouri. One of the victims was unintentionally shot by a responding officer.
  • Also on Sunday, a man shot his pregnant fiancé, 24, in the stomach in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. Her unborn baby died. The suspect was shot and killed by police.

As always, there’s the very real fear that these shootings will lead to more violence. Mourners gathering in Louisville’s Shawnee Park after the shooting on Thursday were spotted consoling each other — and shouting at each other. A woman collapsed to the ground near one of the two dead victims and yelled, “Get me a gun! Get me a gun!”

In New Orleans, Jessie Ben, the mother of shooting victim Brittany, said she prays for an end to the shooting: “Stop all the killing, it’s not worth it.”

[Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP Photo]