PASS CHRISTIAN -- Two people were shot to death and four were hospitalized in a shooting on Davis Avenue after the St. Paul Carnival Association's Mardi Gras parade Sunday afternoon.
Carlos Bates, 29, of Gulfport, and Isaiah Major III, 43 of Bay St. Louis, each died of a gunshot wound at the scene, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said.
Their bodies, about 20 feet apart, had been covered by yellow sheets in the middle of Davis Avenue near Ladnier Street after first responders took control of the scene. Two children and a woman held each other and cried as they stood near one of the bodies near perimeter police had secured with yellow caution tape.
"It's chaos," Police Chief Tim Hendricks after he reached the scene.
Hendricks said police received a call about a fight shortly after the last parade unit had completed the route and officers learned shots had been fired.
Ladnier Street is about two blocks north of the parade route and just north of railroad tracks. The parade, which started at noon on Davis Avenue, looped west along Scenic Drive and crossed Second Avenue, ending near where it started.
Hendricks had estimated the crowd at 50,000 people and police were already dealing with heavy traffic. Some revelers had parked a mile or more away, with hundreds of cars lining parts of Scenic Drive and neighboring roads.
Immediately after the shooting, police cars arrived with sirens blaring and officers showed up on motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. At least one K-9 team began walking up Davis Avenue.
By tradition, many who live near the parade route continue to celebrate after the parade at their homes and in their yards.
Brian Wileman and several friends heard the shots from about a block away while they visited at a friend's home on Handy Lane off Davis Avenue just south of the crime scene.
"We were sitting on the porch and I heard pops," Wileman said. "At first I thought it was fireworks, but we shoot guns, so I wondered if it was gunshots.
"I had a clear line of sight to a ballfield and I saw 150 to 250 people scattering, running as fast as they could. People just don't run from fireworks like that."
"What a great day it had been," Wileman said. "What a shame. I can't believe people would bring weapons to a parade."
12 shots heard
Celeste Plaisance said she was on the porch of her mother's and stepfather's home on the corner of Davis and Ladnier when she heard the blast of gun shots.
"I think I heard 12 shots fired," she said. "We thought it was fireworks at first."
When she saw someone had been shot and people were fleeing, she ran inside for safety.
She said the bodies were close to the steps of the family's home, and police drove through their yard to avoid disturbing the crime scene.
A Harrison County Sheriff's Office helicopter also was flying overhead.
People who had scattered and others began to congregate around the area police had cordoned off.
Funeral home vehicles came and took the bodies away after the coroner and investigators documented the crime scene.
Traffic began to thin out and the crowds began to leave before sunset.