Kyle Romain had just started school, his grandfather said, and the 4-year-old beamed with excitement over the upcoming school year.
When he wasn’t laughing, 2-year-old Jamal Riley had a smile on his face.
The two brothers were outside playing with family Sunday night in the Lower 9th Ward when a barrage of bullets meant for a convicted heroin possessor changed everything.
“These are babies,” said the boys’ grandfather, Wayne Romain Sr. “There’s no reason for anything like this. To do something like this, you have no value for life.”
The drive-by shooting wounded four members of Romain’s family. Kyle is permanently blind, Romain said, and Jamal has serious brain damage.
The boys’ mother, Alanna Romain, 32, is in the hospital with a gunshot wound to her left abdomen. Their sister Halanni, 13, is home after a bullet fragment struck her in the leg.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Romain, 57. “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”
New Orleans police believe the shooter had been aiming for 33-year-old Terrence McBride, who has a previous conviction for heroin possession and pending drug and weapons charges.
A neighbor in the 5400 block of Burgundy Street, 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson, also died as a result of the shooting.
A 37-year-old woman was also injured in the shooting, which took place around 8 p.m.
Witnesses said that someone inside a dark gray Honda opened fire even though children were present and playing in the front yard and on the porch. A woman who was on the porch at the time of the shooting said two other children ages 5 and 11 were also outside playing at the time and escaped without injury.
New Orleans police and Mayor Mitch Landrieu Tuesday afternoon urged community members to come forward with information to help police catch those responsible for the shooting.
“This was another unspeakable crime on the streets of New Orleans,” Landrieu said at a news conference outside the NOPD’s 5th District headquarters in the 9th Ward. “The relentless drumbeat of death will not stop until we as a community demand that it stops.”
NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said authorities have developed leads and a possible identity of a person who was in the car with the gunman.
Alanna Romain and her five children came had been back in New Orleans not even a year after living in Texas, her father said.
“When she was living in Texas, I asked her not to come back here because of the violence,” he said. “She wanted to be home — wanted to be close to family. I wish they would have stayed in Texas.”
A fundraiser for the Romain family is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Bourbon Heat, 711 Bourbon St., where Alanna Romain worked as a server.
Police have asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.