Charges Dropped Against Man Accused of Opening Fire on New Orleans Playground

Joseph Allen, 32, had faced 17 counts of attempted murder in the shooting

Photo: Cheryl Gerber/Getty

Charges have been dropped against a man who was accused of opening fire on a New Orleans playground in a Nov. 22 incident that wounded 17 people, PEOPLE confirms.

Joseph Allen, 32, had faced 17 counts of attempted murder in the shooting. In a statement to PEOPLE, New Orleans police chief Michael Harrison states, “Detectives identified Joseph Allen as a suspect based on testimony provided by an eye witness at the scene.”

But, the statement adds, “After the arrest, we continued to investigate Allen s statement about his whereabouts during the shooting which we have now been able to confirm. As a result, Mr. Allen has been cleared in this investigation.”

According to the statement, cops believe they “have a strong case against the four other suspects in custody and the remaining wanted suspects. We will continue to follow this investigation wherever it leads us so we can take every individual involved in this violent incident off of our streets.”

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Allen was accused of opening fire on a crowd of several hundred that had gathered at Bunny Friend Playground for an unsanctioned music video shoot. Police said that at least two groups of people began shooting at each other across the playground, injuring 17 people caught in the crossfire. All of them are expected to recover.

Allen’s mother, Deborah, had previously insisted that her son was innocent, telling police that he was in Houston at the time of the incident.

“Plenty of people thought I was lying just to protect him,” Deborah Allen told reporters outside of the courthouse, according to WGNO. “He was not there.”

Allen’s defense team had been prepared to show video they said would exonerate him. But the charges were dropped before they could, so they showed it outside of court instead, WGNO reports.

In the video, Allen can be seen shopping in Houston with his pregnant wife just before and after the attack. The timestamp on the footage shows that it would have been impossible for him to have been on that playground at the time of the shooting, according to his lawyer.

“Unless he’s Han Solo and he’s flying the Millennium Falcon, there’s no way he could come back here and come back over. It’s simply impossible. It’s a five and a half hour drive,” defense attorney Kevin Boshea told reporters.

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