Suspects in US Tulsa shootings confess

Police say two men arrested for a killing spree that terrorised the black community in the Oklahoma city have confessed.

Oklahoma Tulsa murders

Two suspects arrested in a shooting spree that that left three people dead in Tulsa, Oklahoma have confessed, police documents filed in court said.

An affidavit filed on Monday said 19-year-old Jake England confessed to shooting three people and 32-year-old Alvin Watts confessed to shooting two.

Also on Monday the pair appeared via closed-circuit television from jail for their first court appearance at the Tulsa County Courthouse.

Both men are charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with the intent to kill and one count of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

“The judge set bail at an eye-poping almost $10m each,” Al Jazeera’s John Terrett reported from Tulsa.

“It breaks down as $3m for each count of alleged murder, $75,000 for each count of alleged attempted murder and $10,000 for the single count each of possessing a firearm at the scene of a felony.”

Neither man had an attorney present. The judge set an April 16 court date.

‘Hate crime’

“There is a lot of media interest in this country about whether it was a hate crime and the police are very keen to play that down,” Terrett said.

Police have yet to describe the attacks, which took place on Friday morning, as racially motivated, although the suspects are white and all five victims were African Americans.

The district attorney planned to review all the evidence from the police to the court documents before making a decision on whether the attacks were hate crimes, our correspondent said.

Police are also examining whether England was trying to avenge the death of his father, who was killed two years ago.

“He [England] wrote what looks like a race hate rant on Friday, the day of the shootings, on his Facebook page, referring to the killing of his father at the hands of an African American man who wasn’t charged with murder or attempted murder,” Terrett said.

Anonymous tip

Watts and England were arrested at a home just north of Tulsa on Sunday afternoon, Jason Willingham, a spokesperson for the Tulsa police, said on Sunday.

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 kilometre on foot to another place where they were then apprehended.

Police had previously said they did not believe the victims knew one another and they were trying to determine the circumstances behind the killings.

The attacks had alarmed many in the predominantly black north Tulsa area, and local community leaders met earlier in an effort to calm worries about the shootings.

Terrett, reporting from Washington, DC on Sunday, pointed out that Tulsa’s black community 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,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies