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Suspects arrested in US shootings
Two men held in Oklahoma state after recent attacks left three African Americans dead and two others critically wounded.
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2012 04:58
Police are investigating possible racial motivations for the killings

Police have arrested two people suspected in recent shootings in the US state of Oklahoma that left three dead and two others critically wounded, all African Americans.

The two men were arrested at a home just north of Tulsa on Sunday afternoon. They were expected to face three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill, Tulsa police spokesperson Jason Willingham said.

The Friday morning shootings had alarmed many in the predominantly black north Tulsa area, but police have declined to discuss speculation about issues of race.

Authorities had said they thought the shootings were linked.

Willingham said police acted on an anonymous tip and went to one location and followed the suspects after they had traveled about more than half a kilometer on foot to another place where they were apprehended. He declined to characterise that as a pursuit.

"There obviously still is a lot of investigation" ahead, Willingham told The Associated Press news agency. "We don't have a motive at this time. We are still asking questions and hopefully that will become clear in coming days."

'Sheer terror'

Al Jazeera's John Terrett, reporting from Washington, DC, pointed out that the black community in Tulsa has been "terrified" by the shootings.

"There has been two days of sheer terror for the people of the north side of Tulsa which is mostly an African-American area. They have changed their daily routines because they were so terrified by the crimes," Terrett said.

Willingham identified the men in custody as 19-year-old Jake England and 32-year-old Alvin Watts, but gave no hometowns for them.

He said the two men were taken on Sunday for questioning at a downtown Tulsa police station and would be booked and then jailed.

Police had said previously that they did not believe the victims knew one another and they were trying to determine the circumstances behind the killings. Black community leaders met on Friday evening in an effort to calm worries about the shootings.

The Reverend Warren Blakney Sr, president of the Tulsa branch of the NAACP civil rights group, had contacted police to emphasise the need for all to work together to avoid vigilantism.

Blakney also had spoken of "avid distrust" between the community and the police department and he also raised concerns that the shootings be fully investigated.

'Cowardly' attacks

Willingham said the arrests followed a tip on Saturday but he declined to specify what that information was.

Willingham said he did not have any immediate details when asked if the men were armed when they were arrested. But he said authorities had begun honing in on the men on Saturday evening, adding, "this evolved pretty rapidly".

"We've been on them since early in the evening [of Saturday]. We had been doing surveillance and using a helicopter," he said.

Police had said previously that they were searching for a white man driving a white pickup, which was spotted in the area of three of the shootings on Friday.

Authorities had said they thought the shootings by an attacker or attackers were linked because they happened around the same time within a five-kilometer area and all five victims were out walking when they were shot.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan had said on Saturday that police would do whatever it took to apprehend suspects in what he called vicious and cowardly attacks.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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