Five teenagers were charged with felony hate crimes for allegedly driving through the New Orleans French Quarter shooting men with a pellet gun and paintball gun and yelling racist and homophobic slurs.
Two men told the New Orleans Police Department they were assaulted last weekend by a group of African American teens driving around in a car. Suspects George Brown, 18; O'na Reed, 19; Jazz Henry, 17; and two juveniles were arrested Sunday Sep. 1. The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) is investigating both incidents as hate crimes.
One man was sitting on his porch on Burgundy Street around 11:30 p.m. Saturday Aug. 31, when a car drove the wrong way down the street. Those inside yelled racist and homophobic slurs at the unidentified victim before shooting and injuring him with a pellet gun, The Times-Picayune reported.
The second incident involved a 27-year-old man walking to his car around 2:10 a.m. Sunday Sept. 1, when a silver or gray Chevrolet pulled up alongside him. Someone in the back of the car yelled a homophobic slur then fired 15 to 20 paintballs at the man, said NOPD spokesman Officer Frank Robertson. The man was hit about five times.
Police later pulled over a car fitting the victim’s description. A large air assault rifle, a large bag of ammunition and a tactical Airsoft pistol was found in the vehicle. Airsoft, the Times-Picayune reported, can be bought without a license as long as the buyer is 18 years or older.
All five occupants in the car were arrested. Brown, Reed, and Henry were charged with second-degree battery, felony hate crimes and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.
The two juvenile passengers were charged with second-degree battery and hate crimes.
A felony hate crime conviction carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a maximum jail sentence of five years.
A hate crime in the state of Louisiana is defined as any offense committed against person and property because of their “actual or perceived” race, age, gender, religious, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry.