A white man who shot three young black men who were trying to evacuate in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina died a few days after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for these crimes, authorities said Wednesday. .
The man, Roland J. Bourgeois Jr., died Feb. 19 – five days after his conviction – in a Louisiana jail while he was under the custody of the US Marshal Service, a said Walter Martin, an assistant supervisor. Mr. Bourgeois was waiting to be transferred to a federal prison.
The sheriff's office in Plaquemines Parish is responsible for the death investigation, Martin said. The cause of death was unclear, but Martin said the authorities did not suspect any criminal acts.
Federal prosecutors cited Mr. Bourgeois' physical and mental health as one of the reasons his judicial proceedings had been dragging on for almost nine years after his initial charge. During this period, Mr. Bourgeois has repeatedly been found unable to stand trial. He was finally declared competent in 2018.
Shortly after the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005, Mr. Bourgeois fired on the three men because they were black and entered the neighborhood in which he lived, the US Attorney's Office said. United for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The men, who were all injured in the shooting, were trying to get to a ferry that was landing in this state and that the federal agencies were using as a place of evacuation.
In 2010, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Bourgeois with five counts of indictment and the maximum sentence was life imprisonment. Prosecutors subsequently dismissed the initial indictment as part of a plea agreement. In October, Mr. Bourgeois pleaded guilty to two counts: undermining the rights of targeted men and the use of a firearm during a violent crime.
On February 14, he was sentenced to five years in prison for each of the two counts of indictment. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.