A Mississippi man has been arrested and charged with shooting and wounding three men in what prosecutors said was a racially motivated attack in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.
According to published reports, Roland Bourgeois Jr., a white man, is charged in a five-count indictment with firing a shotgun at three Black men in New Orleans’s historic Algiers Point neighborhood while they tried to leave the center of the city during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The victims who were 17, 18 and 32 at the time, have been identified as Marcel Alexander, Chris Collins andDonnell Herrington-who was shot in the throat but survived.
Authorities report that Bourgeois and others discussed shooting black people and defending the neighborhood from “outsiders” after the storm and allegedly warned a black resident of Algiers Point that “anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot.”
In addition to threatening current black residents, it is alleged that Bourgeois bragged that he “got one” after the shooting and then retrieved a bloody baseball cap belonging to the victim as proof.
According to the indictment, “When (Bourgeois) was advised that the man he had shot was still alive, he referred to the injured man using a racial epithet and threatened he would kill him.”
Bourgeois, who is now a resident of Mississippi, has been charged with committing a hate crime with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
Although Bourgeois has been indicted, a date for his initial court appearance wasn’t immediately set and he is not in custody.
Authorities state that the reason for Bourgeois’ lack of confinement is in part because he is apparently “in very poor health” and wasn’t considered “a danger or a risk of flight.”
The case against Bourgeois is one of several post-Katrina investigations opened by the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
On Tuesday, six current and former New Orleans police officers were indicted on federal civil rights charges stemming from deadly shootings on the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005.
Five former officers already have pleaded guilty to participating in a cover-up to make it appear the shootings were justified.