Hate crime charges filed in Tulsa shootings

Jake England, 19 (left), and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested in connection with a wave of deadly shootings in Tulsa, Okla., early Friday April 6, 2012. CBS News

(CBS/AP)

TULSA, Okla. - Oklahoma prosecutors filed murder and hate crime charges Friday against two men arrested in an Easter weekend shooting spree that left three people dead and terrorized Tulsa's black community.

Jake England, 19, and his roommate, Alvin Watts, 33, each are charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious harassment. The harassment counts allege the victims were targeted because of their race.

Police say the men, who were arrested early Sunday after a two-day manhunt, appeared to have chosen five victims at random. Three died and two others were wounded. Under state law, first-degree murder is punishable by death or life in prison. Prosecutors said decisions about whether to seek the death penalty are usually made after a preliminary hearing.

"Filing charges is the first step to obtain justice for the victims and their families," said Doug Drummond, Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney. "This is a tragic and senseless crime. Our office is committed to holding those responsible accountable for their actions."

Court documents say both men confessed, England to shooting three people and Watts to shooting two. All the victims were black and police have said one motive might have been England's desire to avenge his father's fatal shooting by a black man two years ago. Documents do not list an attorney for either man, who a judge ruled Friday will be held without bond. They will be arraigned on the charges Monday.

A probable cause affidavit filed with the charges said anonymous callers to a police department hotline before the men were arrested claimed England was a racist who hated black men and that he "has mentioned he will die in a shoot out with the police if he has to."

England's family and friends have said the death of his father and his girlfriend's January suicide sent the younger England into a downward spiral. He apparently wrote a Facebook post marking the second anniversary of his father's death and lamented that "it's hard not to go off."

England's father, Carl, was fatally shot in 2010 by a black man who had threatened Carl England's daughter. After tracking down Pernell Jefferson, the men fought and Carl England was fatally shot. Jefferson was not charged with homicide because an investigation determined he acted in self-defense.

According to CBS affiliate KOVT in Tulsa, Okla., the first of three funerals for the victims -- 54-year-old Bobby Clark - took place on Friday morning. Reverend Jesse Jackson, who attended the service, was reported saying, "From Trayvon [Martin] to Bobby, who would have thought? There is power in the blood of the innocent... There is something happening in this place, healing that is good for Tulsa."

A funerals for 49-year-old Donna Fields and William Allen, 31, are expected to be held on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.

Police say the men appear to have chosen their victims at random.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.