Murder, hate crime charges in Tulsa shooting spree

Associated Press + More

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — 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 their victims at random. Under state law, first-degree murder is punishable by death or life in prison. Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the men's execution.

Court documents say both men have confessed in the shootings, 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.

England's father, Carl, was fatally shot in 2010 by a man who had threatened his daughter and tried to kick in the door of her home. The man was black, and police say England's son may have been seeking vengeance.

Family and friends say Carl England's death sent his son into a downward spiral — Jake England apparently wrote a Facebook post marking the second anniversary of his father's death and lamented that "it's hard not to go off."

The shootings gripped the city's predominantly black north side with fear over the Easter weekend. Residents said the north side has seen its share of crime problems, but they have never faced a series of random killings like these.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.