(TULSA, Okla.) — Police say their investigation of the deadly shooting spree in Tulsa, Okla., will include the racially charged Facebook postings of a man arrested Sunday morning in connection with the attacks, although they say it’s premature to describe the incident as a hate crime.
Two white men were arrested in connection with the random attacks that left three black pedestrians dead and two in critical condition last Friday, police said.
Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested at a house north of Tulsa around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and are expected to be charged with three counts of murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill, according to officials.
“I’m just really amazed at how quickly we were able to apprehend these two subjects,” Task force commander Maj. Walter Evans said at a news conference on Sunday. “But there are still a whole lot of unanswered questions that we have to have answered.”
The shootings occurred nearly two years to the day after a black man shot England’s father to death, according to his Facebook posting.
But the FBI’s James Finch, who was part of the task force handling the case, on Sunday called it “very premature to talk about hate crimes. We have yet to analyze all the information to understand the motivations of the subjects in this case.”
Although police were reluctant to call the killings a hate crime, others were less so.
“Somebody that committed these crimes were very upset with black people,” Tulsa Councilman Jack Henderson said on Sunday. “That person happened to be a white person. The people they happened to kill and shoot were black people. That fits the bill for me. That’s a personal feeling.”
The five men were shot early Friday morning in four separate incidents during a span of less than two hours on the same side of town and not far from one another, police said.
Police identified the dead men as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31. There was no connection between the suspects and victims, police said at a news conference on Sunday.
Two males were critically wounded in the shooting spree. All of the victims were targeted while they were out walking, and apparently did not know each other.
“We have not been able to find any commonality between the victims other than they were walking on the street,” Sgt. Dave Walker of the Tulsa Police Department said.
One of the victims who survived the attack described the shooter as a white male in a white pick-up truck, a detail that proved critical in finding and arresting the suspects.
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