Suspect in deadly Bourbon Street shooting punched security guard, chased him, NOPD says
New Orleans LA February 26 2019 The Bourbon Street shooting early Sunday began as an early-morning attack on a security guard before escalating into a struggle over a gun and two quick shots, one of which killed a woman who was just walking by, according to New Orleans criminal court records released Monday.
The documents filed by police provided the most complete account yet of the 3:30 a.m. melee that killed nurse Julie Couvillon and left a security guard, the suspected shooter and a third man suffering from bullet-related wounds.
In view of a city crime camera and at least one witness, Louis Barnes allegedly punched the security guard at the Willie’s Chicken Shack “several times,” chased him into and then out of the business, and wrested away the security guard’s .40-caliber Glock handgun, police said. Police said Barnes shot Couvillon, himself, the guard, and a 46-year-old man who later arrived at Tulane University Medical Center to be treated for a graze wound he suffered while standing near the fight.
Both Couvillon – who was killed – and the guard, who was injured, were shot in the neck, police wrote in the records. Barnes emerged from the struggle early Sunday with a bullet wound to his right shoulder that, police said, he inadvertently inflicted on himself.
Law enforcement officials believe that all of the wounds resulted from just two bullets, based on witness statements and the two shell casings found on the crowded stretch of Bourbon St. that quickly shifted from Carnival revelry to police emergency.
According to court documents signed by New Orleans Police Department Homicide Detective Bruce Brueggeman, surveillance video fed into the city’s Real Time Crime Center captured the blue-haired Barnes attacking the guard, punching him, and pursuing him into and then out of the fried-chicken joint.
Amid the struggle, the gun fired and both Barnes as well as Couvillon – who was walking on Bourbon – fell to the ground, a witness recounted. Then, the witness allegedly said, a second gunshot hit the security guard and he then fell to the ground as well.
The camera captured both Couvillon and the security guard falling to the ground, Brueggeman wrote. But Brueggeman’s description of the surveillance video stopped short of saying that it recorded Barnes’ firing the gun.
Multiple NOPD officers in uniform ran toward Willie’s Chicken Shack after hearing the gunshots, grabbed Barnes and handcuffed him, the records said.
Barnes, Couvillon and the guard were all taken to University Medical Center. The 36-year-old Couvillon was pronounced dead at the hospital. Barnes was released later in the day and jailed. The guard remained hospitalized through at least Sunday.
A Mount Carmel Academy graduate, Couvillon worked as a nurse for Ochsner Health Systems for 13 years, the hospital group said in a statement. Ochsner said Couvillon – whose survivors include a 19-year-old daughter – “dedicated her life to caring for others.”
A graphic video circulating on social media showed the aftermath of the shooting that unfolded on a street packed with late-night revelers. A bare-chested man kneeling next to Couvillon pressed a shirt against her neck in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding while another man wearing a Mardi Gras-colored lei around his neck gestured at a nearby officer.
On the sidewalk, two police officers had a hold of Barnes, who was standing with his hands cuffed behind his back and a large, dark bloodstain on his right shoulder. The guard is seated with his back against an open door at Willie’s, with a kneeling officer speaking to him.
The wounded guard worked for Elite Protection Solutions LLC. Both the guard and company were properly licensed and registered to provide armed security, state officials said.
Fabian Blache III, the director of the state’s private security licensing board, said the guard is expected to fully recover.
Court documents don’t address exactly what led to the guard’s attack, but Willie’s Chicken Shack officials said it all started when the guard tried to eject Barnes from the business for allegedly trying to sell drugs there.
Blache said his board received information that Barnes had gotten into a verbal altercation with a Willie’s Chicken Shack employee, who then asked the guard to kick Barnes out of the eatery.
Sunday was just the latest of several legal entanglements for Barnes dating back to the late 1990s. Most recently, he was facing charges of failing to register as a sex offender.
He was required to register as a sex offender following a 2015 guilty plea to carnal knowledge of a juvenile in Jefferson Parish, which involved his admitting to sex with a 15-year-old girl about four years earlier. For that, he received a two-year prison sentence.
Barnes was due in court Monday on the failure to register charge, though the hearing was postponed at least a day, records show.