He Targeted Anyone 'Darker Than a Brown Paper Bag'

Roland Bourgeois Jr. gets 10 years for racially motivated attack after Hurricane Katrina
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2019 8:34 AM CST

(Newser) – A New Orleans man is finally doing time almost 14 years after shooting three black men evacuating the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Roland Bourgeois Jr. fired a shotgun at the young men, who were injured, because they were black and entered his Algiers Point neighborhood bordering the Mississippi River, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Bourgeois was one of several white men to erect a barricade and patrol the streets with guns in September 2005 in an effort to block outsiders, reports the New York Times. "Anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot," he said, according to court documents. As the men crossed the barricade in an effort to reach a ferry landing serving as an evacuation site, one was hit in the neck and back, the two others in the arms, back, and legs.

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Bourgeois boasted that he'd "got one," then promised to kill the man, whom he referred to using a racial slur, according to the documents. He also waved around the bloody hat of one of the victims "as a trophy," a federal prosecutor says, per the Times-Picayune. "This was a premeditated attempt to kill," she adds, per the AP. Though Bourgeois was indicted in 2010, he was found incompetent to stand trial at least five times due to mental and physical health concerns before an alteration in 2018. Having admitted the men posed no threat to him, he pleaded guilty in October to interference with the rights of the men and use of a firearm during a violent crime. Though his lawyer argued for a lighter sentence due to his frail health, Bourgeois, appearing in a wheelchair, was sentenced Thursday to five years for each count, plus five years of supervised release. (Read more Louisiana stories.)

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