Tulsa's black community on edge after 5 shootings
Published Saturday, April 7, 2012 5:36PM EDT
A manhunt is underway in Tulsa, Okla., where African-American residents fear they are being targeted by a shooter who is believed to have killed three people and injured two others.
Five separate shootings occurred early Friday morning within a five-kilometre radius, Tulsa police said. Three people were killed and two were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
All five victims were black. The survivors told police the man who shot them was white.
Some of the victims were found in yards while at least one man was shot while walking down the street.
Although forensic tests are not complete, police believe the same person is responsible for all five shootings. They are now searching for a white man driving a white pickup truck, which was spotted in the area.
However, police said it's too early to tell whether investigators are dealing with a hate crime.
"There is a very logical theory that's what it could be," Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told reporters Saturday. "But I'm a police officer. I've got to go by evidence…And we have no evidence at this time (of a hate crime).
"Right now, I'm more worried about three of my citizens being murdered."
Police identified those killed as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31.
Jordan said various police agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, will be working the case and appealed to anyone with information about the killings to come forward.
"I also want to say to the perpetrator and anybody who would attempt to aid or abet him: we're coming for you," Jordan said.
Residents of Tulsa's black neighbourhoods were rattled after the shootings, prompting a meeting of community leaders on Friday evening.
"We're all nervous," 52-year-old Renaldo Works said while getting a haircut at a barber shop on Saturday morning. "I've got a 15-year-old and I'm not going to let him out late. People are scared. We need facts."
Rev. Warren Blakney Sr., president of the Tulsa chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said efforts must be made to reassure the community.
"We're trying to quell the feeling of 'let's get someone' and we will make as certain as we can that this isn't pushed under the rug," he said.
Others pointed to the African-American community's "avid distrust" of the Tulsa police department, which has been accused of corruption many times over the years.
Several ex-police officers were recently sentenced to prison for various offences, including perjury, stealing drugs and money and falsifying search warrants.
With files from The Associated Press