Tulsa’s black community on edge after 5 shootings
The police chief of Tulsa, Oklahoma, offered a stern, succinct message Saturday to the man he believes killed three people and critically wounded two others in a spate of seemingly random shootings: “We’re coming for you.”
Chief Chuck Jordan described the shootings at four separate sites — all of which occurred early Friday within two to three miles of each other — as “vicious and cowardly attacks.”
A survivor described the suspect as a white man, driving an “older” white pickup truck, according to Jordan. But Jordan indicated authorities do not know exactly who the shooter is, noting that this basic description “alone probably accounts for 50,000 people in the city of Tulsa.”
With the assailant still at large, city leaders stressed that information from the public will be critical to cracking this case.
“To know that you can’t walk down the street at night in your own neighborhood, that’s a terrible thing,” said city councilor Jack Henderson, who represents the district where the shootings occurred. “The only way that this person is going to be brought to justice is we need some leads. We need some people to come forward. We need some people to tell us what you know, what it is you heard.”
About 30 representatives from four different law enforcement agencies — the Tulsa police, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI — are on the case, as part of a newly formed task force called “Operation Random Shooter.”
They’ll be working around the clock to solicit leads, gather evidence and conduct interviews, according to Jordan.
Earlier Saturday, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett told CNN that at least 40 cruisers are patrolling the affected area. He added that officers are spending the weekend “going, literally, door to door, and asking people if they have seen anything (and) what their opinions and observations are.”
What authorities do know is the first shooting occurred at 1:03 a.m. Friday, according to Tulsa police Capt. Jonathan Brooks. That victim, 49-year-old Dannaer Fields, died at a hospital.
Three minutes later, two people were shot nearby. Both are in critical condition, but are expected to survive.
Then, just before 2 a.m., a fourth shooting incident — like the first, a fatal — occurred. The third person killed was found around 8 a.m. next to a funeral home in a more commercial district, though Brooks said police believe he was shot much earlier.
In addition to Fields, Jordan identified the other two victims as William Allen and Bobby Clark.
“It appears all the victims were out walking or in the yard,” Brooks said. “This (happened in) a residential neighborhood, predominantly single-family dwellings, except for the last victim.”
All the victims were black.
The Rev. Warren Blakney, a pastor at a city church and president of the NAACP’s Tulsa branch, said the shootings could well prove to be hate crimes given that they happened in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.
“For a white male to come that deep into that area and to start indiscriminately shooting, that lends itself for many to believe that it probably was a hate crime,” Blakney told CNN.