Roland J. Bourgeois Jr., 55, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for shooting three young Black men who were trying to evacuate New Orleans following the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Bourgeois targeted the three young men due to their race after they came into the neighborhood where he lived. The men had gone into the neighborhood to reach a ferry landing that state and federal agencies were using to evacuate victims when Bourgeois shot them.
All of the men were injured in the shooting, with one of the men being struck in the neck and back, and the other two being hit in the arms, back and legs, the New York Times reports.
Court documents detailed that Bourgeois and other white men in the neighborhood tried to prevent “outsiders” from entering Algiers Point, a suburb which borders the Mississippi River, using downed trees to block off the streets near their homes and patrolling the streets with guns.
The three Black men passed a barricade on their way to the ferry and Bourgeois fired his weapon at them. The men ran away, and Bourgeois boasted that he had “got one,” using a racial slur to describe the man, and promised to kill him.
Bourgeois also showed off a bloodied baseball cap that had fallen off of one of the men’s heads.
Bourgeois later told a Black neighbor who pleaded with him to not shoot her family that “anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot,” according to the Times-Picayune.
When he was initially indicted, he claimed that he thought the men were looting, before later admitting that that was not the case.
Bourgeois was originally charged in 2010 with conspiracy, civil rights violations, obstruction of justice, making false statements and firearms violations, however, his case was delayed all these years as his physical and mental competency to stand trial was evaluated. He was evaluated six times since 2010, the Times notes and was finally declared competent in 2018.
In October 2018, he pleaded guilty to interference with rights and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for each count, and will also serve five years of supervised release.