Federal, state and local authorities are investigating if the shootings of five Black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma are a hate crime after the weekend arrests of two white suspects, report CNN. Three people were killed and two were injured in the Friday shooting rampage.
Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, are scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning. Tulsa police arrested them early Sunday after a series of tips that led investigators to England's burned pickup, a vehicle that matched a description reported at the crime scenes, according to their arrest reports. Both suspects are charged with three counts of murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill, police said. ...
Jim Finch, the head of the FBI's Oklahoma office, said Sunday that it was "premature" to talk about hate crimes. "We have yet to analyze all the information to understand the motivations of these subjects in this case," Finch said.
England had written a racial slur on his Facebook page in a post marking the anniversary of his father's 2010 killing. But the entry also noted his girlfriend's recent suicide, and a man at England's home told CNN, "You don't know what this family's been through."
More details from The Oklahoman:
In a Thursday update on Facebook that appeared to have been written by 19-year-old Jake England, he angrily blamed his father's death on a black man and used a racial slur. He said Thursday was the second anniversary of his father's death. "It's hard not to go off," given the anniversary and the death of his fiancie earlier this year, the posting said. ... The Facebook page had been taken down by Sunday afternoon.
Police are reluctant to describe the shootings as racially motivated. City Councilman Jack Henderson, however, has no qualms doing so. "Being an NAACP president for seven years, I think that somebody that committed these crimes were very upset with black people," Henderson said. "That person happened to be a white person, the people they happened to kill and shoot are black people. That fits the bill for me."
The Tulsa shooting spree comes at the same time many Black Americans are outraged over the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old who was gunned down by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain outside Orlando.
Tulsa was once home to the wealthiest Black community in the United State. It was also the location of one of worst acts of racial violence in American history: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 which killed up to 300 Blacks residents. The assault against Tulsa's Black community included aerial firebombing and aerial machine gun sorties.