Two Curtin University students were shot in a botched drug deal last night in New Orleans, after competing in the 38th International Collegiate Mining Games in Montana.
The students were reported to be in a stable condition in hospital and were able to assist detectives with their investigation.
The New Orleans Advocate reported the two students were at a Bourbon Street bar where they asked a man if they could buy drugs from him.
The students told detectives they followed the man into a sedan with an unknown driver, who took them to Algiers, which ABC described as “one of the oldest, poorest and most crime-ridden parts of New Orleans”.
On the way the driver told the students that the drugs would cost several hundred dollars, to which they said they did not have the money.
“The pair said they exited the vehicle and were approached by another unknown male who demanded their money,” according to a New Orleans Police Department statement.
“When they told him they didn’t have it, the unknown male shot them both and then jumped in the vehicle with the unknown driver and fled the scene,” they said.
One man was shot in the chest and the other was shot in the abdomen at approximately 4:15am Tuesday local time, or 7:15pm Wednesday AEST.
One of the attackers said to the students, “you know what time it is,” before they were shot.
New Orleans police spokesman Dave Badie said police have not been able to identify the three suspects involved in the shooting, and that he did not know what type of drugs they tried to buy.
New Orleans Advocate reporter Ken Daley told the ABC that the suburb of Algiers, in the West Bank area adjacent to the Mississippi River, is known for drugs and violent crime.
“The area they were in, frankly, is one that is very well known for drug and violent gun activity at times, so it really was not the best place for them to be in and certainly not at four in the morning and it’s unfortunate that they have learned a very harsh lesson of that,” he said.
The students are members of the WA School of Mining Wombats team from Kalgoorlie, which recently won the 38th International Collegiate Mining Competition held in Butte, Montana.
It is understood the students had travelled to New Orleans to celebrate their win, and planned to continue their trip to Las Vegas and Cancun, Mexico.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it is assisting the students and their families.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance, in line with the Consular Services Charter, to two Australians and their families in relation to a shooting incident in the United States,” a statement said.
“Due to Privacy Act obligations we cannot provide further information about the incident at this time.”
WASM director Professor Sam Spearing left for New Orleans on Wednesday night to meet with the students, and Curtin University vice-chancellor Deborah Terry said the families had been contacted and were arranging travel to the US.
“The University is providing support and assistance to the injured students and their families,” she said.
“Support is also being provided to the others in the group who were not in the vicinity of the shooting and are unharmed.”
This was the second year running that the WASM team has won the international event, while the WASM Wallabies women’s team was beaten by University of Missouri by a single point.
The Wombat A team won the Swede Saw and Hand Steel Drilling events, and took second in Mucking and Gold Panning, while the Wombat B team won the Gold Panning event and came second in Survey.
Butte Sports reported the Wombats teams celebrated with their own supply of Emu Export, brought from Australia.
UPDATE: Perthnow has identified the students as Wombats A team captain Jake Rovaczek and Toben Clements.