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Convicted in racial shootings, he dies days after sentencing

February 27, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A white man who pleaded guilty to federal charges for shooting at three black people trying to evacuate flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has died — days after he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Brian Fair confirmed Wednesday that 56-six-year-old Roland Bourgeois Jr. died Feb. 19 in a suburban New Orleans jail, pending his transfer to a federal prison. The death was under investigation but Fair said authorities suspect natural causes.

Medical and mental health issues had caused long delays in the Bourgeois case since his indictment in 2010 — nearly five years after the shootings that seriously wounded one man following the 2005 storm.

Bourgeois pleaded guilty in October to two federal criminal charges in the shooting. He was sentenced Feb. 14 and died five days later.

Days after Katrina hit the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coasts and levee failures flooded much of New Orleans, Bourgeois fired a shotgun at three black men who were trying to evacuate the area. Prosecutors said that he and others had discussed shooting black people and defending the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans from “outsiders” after the storm. Before and after the shooting, his conversations were punctuated with racial epithets.

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