One suspect surrenders in Central City birthday party shooting as community mourns slain woman and child

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Leo Riles (via

An 18-year-old surrendered to police Wednesday and was arrested on murder charges in the deaths of a woman and a child in Tuesday’s shootout at a birthday party on Simon Bolivar Avenue, but investigators are looking for two other suspects as family and community members mourn the lives that were lost.

Witnesses gave police a nickname of one of the gunmen that investigators were able to link to Leo Riles, who turned himself in after a series of searches for him overnight, according to a NOPD news release. Two men wounded at the party were believed to be the targets of the shooting, but they have not cooperated with the investigation, police have said.

All three suspects are believed to have been captured on surveillance video.

The full NOPD news release about Riles’ arrest follows:

New Orleans Police have arrested one of the suspected gunmen in yesterday’s shooting at a child’s birthday party that left a 5-year-old girl and a local mother of 3 dead, as well as 3 others wounded.

Shortly before 11 this morning, 18-year-old Leo Riles turned himself in to officers at NOPD’s Sixth District Station. After agreeing to a taped interview with detectives, he was booked with 2-counts of First Degree Murder.

Riles is accused of opening fire along with two other gunmen on a small crowd that had gathered for a 10-year-old boy’s birthday party just before 6pm last night in the 1200-block of Simon Bolivar Avenue. A 5-year-old girl was killed, as well as 33-year-old Shawanda Pierce, who was in her car about a block away from the party. A stray bullet went through Pierce’s windshield, and struck her in the face. She died a short time later at a nearby hospital.

The 10-year-old boy was grazed by a bullet on his face, and was also shot in the leg. He was treated and released from a hospital earlier today. 2 men, who were also wounded in the incident, were released from the hospital last night.

NOPD homicide detectives interviewed multiple witnesses, who were able to give them the nickname of one of the suspects. From this tip, members of the Intelligence Unit were able to identify the suspect as Leo Riles.

After obtaining search warrants, detectives worked with the U.S. Marshall’s Office and NOPD’s Special Operations Division throughout the night, searching 3 different locations for Riles. Riles, in turn, decided to turn himself in late this morning to the NOPD Station on MLK Boulevard.

Detectives today have also questioned 2 men who were at the birthday party and are the believed targets of the shooters. These men are related to some of the victims, yet have been uncooperative with detectives.

“This was a heart breaking scene on Simon Bolivar last night. It’s unconscionable that 2 men who are family of some of these victims are choosing not to help investigators identify the shooters”, said Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

“But I have tremendous faith in the work of our detectives. I’m confident that they will locate the other gunmen who are still out there. They’ve worked tirelessly to arrest this one suspect, and they’re determined to bring in the others as well.”

“And as always, I want to thank the members of the community who continue to reach out to our department and help us solve crimes”, Serpas said.

Our partners at WWL-TV produced a series of reports detailing the aftermath of the shooting. The 33-year-old woman killed, Shawanna “Nonnie” Pierce, was a medical coder and a mother of three children on her way to return a rental car, WWL reports.

The 5-year-old girl killed in the shooting, Brianna Allen, was remembered in a vigil at the shooting site Wednesday evening, reports Tania Dall of WWL-TV.

Project Ceasefire, one of the initiatives touted by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in the effort to reduce murders in New Orleans, is also responding to the shooting, and Maya Rodriguez of WWL-TV explains how the program works:

6 thoughts on “One suspect surrenders in Central City birthday party shooting as community mourns slain woman and child

  1. Not to sound harsh, but I think that the wounded “targets” should be held culpable in the deaths of the woman and child. They brought the violence with them and they’re essentially protecting the shooters (perhaps so they can exact their own vengance and possibly kill other innocents in the process).

  2. Really, the police are criticizing these two men who fear cooperating? If it wasn’t so totally clear that they or their family members would be killed by these same murderers, either the ones still at large or the one arrested who will undoubtedly for some reason be freed, I am sure they’d be more willing to cooperate. How about we fix our horribly broken NOPD and justice system before stomping publicly on people who are rightfully scared?

    • the NOPD can’t do it without the help of the public. I bet a lot of people at that party know the story. They are scared so they let children’s killers go free? I call bull

  3. Why don’t the people who know and are related to the purported targets put pressure on them to
    ccoperate????? These people brought this mess to a birthday party and got kids killed and now
    won’t talk. They are hypocrites and cowards. We all have to run around and investigate and guess while they KNOW what’s happening —disgusting

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