Katrina: Superdome Evacuation Suspended Due to Gunfire

The evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the New Orleans Superdome to the Houston Astrodome has been suspended until officials can gain control of the situation. Someone is apparently shooting at helicopters and setting buildings on fire.

Superdome evacuation suspended after shots fired (AP – ESPN)

The evacuation of the Superdome was suspended Thursday after shots were reported fired at a military helicopter and arson fires broke out outside the arena. No immediate injuries were reported. The scene at the Superdome became increasingly chaotic, with thousands of people rushing from nearby hotels and other buildings, hoping to climb onto the buses taking evacuees from the arena, officials said. Paramedics became increasingly alarmed by the sight of people with guns.

Richard Zeuschlag, chief of the ambulance service that was handling the evacuation of sick and injured people from the Superdome, said it was suspending operations “until they gain control of the Superdome.” He said shots were fired at a military helicopter over the Superdome before daybreak. He said the National Guard told him that it was sending 100 military police officers to restore order. “That’s not enough,” Zeuschlag said. “We need a thousand.”

Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said the military — which was handling the evacuation of the able-bodied from the Superdome — had suspended operations, too, because fires set outside the arena were preventing buses from getting close enough to pick up people. He said tens thousands of people started rushing out of other buildings when they saw buses pulling up and hoped to get on. But the immediate focus was on evacuating people from the Superdome, and the other refugees were left to mill around.

Zeuschlag said paramedics were calling him and crying for help because they were so scared of people with guns at the Superdome. He also said that during the night, when a medical evacuation helicopter tried to land at a hospital in the outlying town of Kenner, the pilot reported 100 people were on the landing pad, some with guns. “He was frightened and would not land,” Zeuschlag.


Hurricane Katrina

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. LJD says:

    For god’s sake use restraint with these poor “victims”.

    They are only setting fires and shooting because of the brutal tactics used by police and the military…

    Helicopters rescuing people are really scary…

  2. From the South says:

    This is a frightening example of how delicate the string is that holds civilization together. Less than three (3) days to anarchy.

    Have you noticed that many of the victims are not interested in helping themselves. Could not the strong at least put the litter in a pile? I seem to remember 9/11 victims helping each other and not just yelling “Someone come help me.”