WASHINGTON - Roland J. Bourgeois Jr., 47, currently a resident of Columbia, Miss., was charged in a five-count indictment with conspiring to commit a hate crime, committing a hate crime with a deadly weapon and with intent to kill, making false statements and obstructing of justice in connection with a shooting that happened in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
Today's indictment was announced by Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Jim Letten; and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI New Orleans Field Office David Welker.
According to the indictment, on Sept. 1, 2005, Roland Bourgeois Jr. fired a shotgun at three African-American men because of their race and because they were attempting to use the public streets in the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans. These African-American men were wounded as they sought to evacuate from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The indictment alleges that, after Hurricane Katrina, Bourgeois discussed shooting African-Americans and defending Algiers Point from outsiders, including African-Americans who did not live in the neighborhood. After Bourgeois fired a shotgun at the three men walking on a public street, he learned that one of his victims had been wounded and he announced that he was going to kill African-Americans. Bourgeois then allegedly warned an African-American resident of Algiers Point that, "anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot." Immediately following the shooting, Bourgeois retrieved from the scene – and subsequently displayed – a bloody baseball cap that belonged to one of the victims.
The indictment further alleges that Bourgeois later provided a false statement to federal agents investigating the Sept. 1, 2005, shooting in Algiers Point. Bourgeois is also charged with corruptly persuading an eyewitness to lie to the FBI. Finally, Bourgeois is charged with using a firearm in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy and civil rights offenses.
Bourgeois faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.
This case, which is ongoing, is being investigated by the New Orleans Field Office of the FBI, and is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Forrest Christian and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana W. Scott Laragy.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.