Police have apprehended two white men that they believe are responsible for a string of shootings that targeted blacks in Oklahoma last week. Three victims died from their wounds in what some feel were racially-motivated hate crimes.
Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, are being held by authorities in Tulsa, Oklahoma after being arrested for murder following a shooting rampage across the city that left three dead and others seriously injured.
In addition to charges of murder and shooting with intent to kill, both men might also be prosecuted for hate crimes. England had updated his Facebook page with racial epithet a day before the shooting. On Thursday, authorities say England posted about the anniversary of his father’s death, which he claims happened “at the hands of a fucking nigger.”His father died two years earlier. Authorities say his girlfriend had committed suicide in recent months as well.
While the court considers the possible motive behind the murders , many Americans are already up in arms over what they assume to be only the latest example of a murder racially charged but brushed off by investigators as otherwise. Earlier this year a white neighborhood watch patrolman, George Zimmerman, confessed to killing a 17-year-old black high school student, Trayvon Martin. The case has since become fodder for critics of the America justice system as well as gauge of race relations in America.
"If the motivation is racial in this case, then that needs to be vetted in a court of law just like any others," District Attorney Tom Harris says to reporters about this weekend’s incidents. "It's the law of the state of Oklahoma and if the facts and the evidence support that, then we're going to go forward with it."
Only moments after federal agents apprehended the two suspects, the FBI’s James Finch warned reporters, “It is way too early to call this a hate crime.” Others say that the proof is right in front of their eyes, though.
“That fits the bill for me,” Jack Henderson, the only black councilman from Tulsa, tells ABC, commenting that two white men allegedly shooting five members of another race suggested that the shooter was "very upset with black people.”
"You could look at the facts of the case and come up with what would appear to be a logical theory," Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Gordon responded on Sunday, "but we're going to let the evidence take us where we want to go."
While England and Watts await trial unable to meet a bond set of $9 million each, investigators are considering evidence that they say put them on the scene of several shootings over the weekend. The incidents began early Friday and five African-Americans from Tulsa are believed to have been shot in all.
Last week, an elderly Caucasian man from East Toledo, Ohio claimed he was brutally attacked by both black and white teenagers in retaliation for the death of Trayvon Martin.