Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A white Louisiana man pleaded guilty Wednesday to hate crime charges for shooting three black men who were trying to evacuate an area of New Orleans that was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Prosecutors said Roland J. Bourgeois, Jr., 55, and at least three other white men, formed a vigilante group to keep black people out of their Algiers Point neighborhood after the hurricane hit New Orleans, causing widespread destruction.
"Anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot," Bourgeois told a neighbor at the time.
On Sept. 1, 2005, three young black men, identified as D.H., M.A. and C.C., attempted to enter the Algiers Point neighborhood by crossing a barricade formed with fallen trees that was set up by the vigilante group.
But they were met with shotgun blasts when Bourgeois fired at them, wounding all three men.
After the evacuees fled, Bourgeois bragged to neighbors by saying he "got one" and said he would "kill that [racial slur]" if the victim survived.
Two of the men sustained minor gunshot wounds. A third required emergency surgery but recovered.
Bourgeois will be sentenced Jan. 17. He faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.
Bourgeois was indicted in 2010, but his trial had been postponed several times due to questions about whether he was mentally fit to stand trial. After he was found mentally fit, his attorneys argued that he needed a liver transplant before he could stand trial.
The guilty plea puts an end to a case that had been ongoing since 2005.
"Even though these crimes and Hurricane Katrina occurred over 13 years ago, the FBI does not forget," FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal said in a statement. "Today's guilty plea is proof that the arms of justice are long and we will continue to seek out those who violate and deprive others of their civil rights."