Houston woman killed in weekend shooting in New Orleans

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Taisha Watkins, 27, was among three people killed when gunfire erupted at a New Orleans strip mall.

A Houston woman was among three people killed when two people opened fire on a crowd outside a strip mall in New Orleans. Seven other people were wounded.

The shooting happened Saturday night on the 3400 block of Claiborne Avenue, about 3 miles from the French Quarter.

Police chief Michael Harrison said the two suspects believed to be wearing hoodies had a rifle and a handgun. He said they appeared to have fired indiscriminately into the crowd, striking 10 people. Before fleeing they took time to stand over one person, believed to have been the target.

"We believe that they actually stood over one of the individuals and fired multiple rounds and then after that, fled," he said.

Houston resident Taiesha Watkins, 27, was among those who died at the scene. The other victims who died have been identified as Kurshaw Jackson, 38, and Jeremiah Lee, 28.

According to friends, Watkins, who worked at Memorial Hermann Orthopedic and Spine Hospital, was visiting New Orleans over the weekend. She leaves behind a 5-year-old daughter.

Memorial Hermann Hospital released the following statement, "We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Taiesha Watkins. Tai was full of life, and brought laughter and joy to her Memorial Hermann family. She often spoke of her daughter, whom she loved deeply. Tai was an important piece of the fabric of our hospital and her loss is felt by us all. We offer our sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones during this terribly difficult time," Ed Tufaro, COO of Memorial Hermann Orthopedic & Spine Hospital said.

Seven other victims - five men and two women - were taken to two separate hospitals.

Harrison said one underwent surgery and was in critical condition; the other six were in various conditions but none were considered life-threatening.

Harrison spoke with family members and friends at the scene of the "volatile and tense situation." He called on people to come forward and help police find the killers and also asked people not to take matters into their own hands.

"This was an extremely tragic incident. A lot of people were out here tonight. A lot of people, we know, saw what happened, heard what happened. And we need more than anything for people to come forward to help the NOPD right now solve this case," Harrison said.

On Monday, police said the shooting appears to be gang-related, and the reward for help identifying the gunmen is now up to $25,000.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement: "There is no place in New Orleans for this kind of violence. I speak for everyone in our city when I say we are disgusted, we are infuriated, and we have had more than enough. Three more lives -- gone. It has to end. It's unacceptable anywhere."

Harrison says Crime Stoppers, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are contributing to the reward.

The chief says police know people in the large crowd heard or saw something that could identify the killers.

Crime Stoppers CEO Darlene Cusanza stressed that tips can be anonymous. She says police have gotten good tips but need more help.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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