2 Mardi Gras season visitors slain in separate shootings

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Stray bullets in separate shootings killed two people visiting New Orleans for the festivities leading up to Mardi Gras: a 15-year-old girl from Texas and a 33-year-old South Carolina man.

Heaven Nettles, of Houston, was standing in line at a food truck blocks from a parade route Saturday when gunfire killed her and two men also standing in the line, local news reports said.

The family comes down every year “to visit family, friends and enjoy Carnival,” her aunt Donna Nettles of New Orleans told WVUE-TV. “Except (this time) Heaven is dead.”

The coroner’s office identified the two men killed with Nettles as Donald Roberts Jr., 39, and Marvin Pepp. Coroner’s spokesman Jason Melancon said he could not verify hometowns for any of the three.

The coroner’s office has not released the name or home state of the man killed in a shooting Friday night. But relatives identified him as Brandon Bovain of Orangeburg, South Carolina, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.

Detectives told the family Bouvain was in his vehicle in a hotel parking lot when people in two other vehicles began shooting at each other, said Anthony Brown, one of Bovain’s brothers, speaking with the newspaper.

“Brandon was one of the happiest persons you could meet, and they took my heart away — man, they took my world away,” he said.

All told, there were three shootings Friday in New Orleans, two on Saturday, and another on Monday and one early Wednesday, authorities said. None of the others was fatal.

Investigators do not believe the Texas teen or the South Carolina man were intended victims in the fatal shootings, police said in emails Wednesday to The Associated Press.

Bovain, a furniture deliverer, his girlfriend and one of his younger brothers had made a spur-of-the-moment decision to see Carnival, said another brother, James Bovain. He told the newspaper that the three apparently were checking in to their hotel at the time.