A white man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday, for shooting three young Black men who were attempting to evacuate after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
He is sentenced almost nine years after his original indictment because he had been found incompetent six times to stand trial in the past, according to the New York Times.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana stated in a news release that Roland J. Bourgeois Jr., 55, shot the men with a shotgun shortly after the hurricane hit New Orleans because they were Black and entered his neighborhood.
One of the men was struck in the neck and back. The other two were hit in the arms, back, and legs.
At the beginning of September, the men were attempting to get to a ferry landing state and federal agencies were using as an evacuation site.
According to court documents, Bourgeois, along with other white male residents who lived close made the decision to prevent people they called “outsiders” from entering Algiers Point neighborhood, Black residents included.
The neighborhood borders the Mississippi River. The white men had the audacity to use fallen trees as barriers and patrolled the streets near their homes, the documents revealed.
While the men tried walked over the barricade of trees to get to the ferry landing, Bourgeois decided to open fire. When they ran away, he bragged saying he “got one”. Bourgeois also used a racial slur, promising that he would kill him.
“Anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot,” the documents said Bourgeois told a neighbor.
When Bourgeois was originally indicted back in 2010 he claimed that the men were looting, but later he admitted that it wasn’t true and the men weren’t seen as a threat.
After the devastating category 5 storm, there were stories circulated blaming poor black residents and looters for the chaos that ensued. Ever since then, it has been found that were white violence, police killings and cover-ups by the officials contributed to the aftermath.
“Hurricane Katrina was a tragic chapter in the history of our city,” Peter G. Strasser, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said in a news release. “Hopefully this plea brings some measure of finality to those directly affected by this crime and to this great city that endured so much in the days following this calamity.”