Five people booked with hate crimes in Quarter attacks

Five people have been arrested after they allegedly fired paintballs and pellets at men in two French Quarter incidents that authorities have labeled hate crimes.

According to police, two men reported being assaulted by a group of people riding in a car during separate incidents early Sunday. Police arrested George Brown, 17; Ona Reed, 19; Jazz Henry, 17; and two juveniles in connection with those incidents.

In the second incident, a 27-year-old man was walking to his car at about 2:10 a.m. Sunday when a silver or gray Chevrolet, with four people inside, pulled up alongside him near Burgundy and St. Philip streets, said Officer Frank Robertson, a Police Department spokesman.

One of the passengers in the back seat screamed a homophobic slur at the man and then at least one of the people fired off 15 to 20 paintballs, Robertson said, hitting the man about five times.

The car sped away on St. Philip and turned down Burgundy Street.

In a separate but apparently related incident a few hours earlier, Nola.com reported, a man said he saw a car drive toward him while he sat on his porch in the 1100 block of Burgundy Street.

The people inside of the car, which was driving the wrong way on Burgundy, began to yell racial and homophobic slurs. Then, the website reported, more than one person inside of the car began to fire pellet guns at him.

The man was hit several times and also was cut on his arm and bruised on his shoulder, Nola.com reported.

The suspects were arrested a short time after the second incident, according to Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office records.

Brown, Henry and Reed each were booked with second-degree battery, simple battery, contributing to the delinquency of juveniles and felony hate crimes.

State law makes it illegal to target someone for a crime based on “actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry.”

A hate crime classified as a felony carries a fine of no more than $5,000 and a maximum prison sentence of five years.

An attorney for Henry, who plays trumpet with The Original Pinettes Brass Band, said his client was not responsible for any of the attacks.

The lawyer, Robert Hjortsberg, did not dispute that his client was in the car with the other alleged attackers but said she was not in the car when the alleged paintball assault happened.

“She was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said of her arrest.