Manhunt underway in Tulsa after gunman kills 3

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 07, 2012 5:13 PM
Manhunt underway in Tulsa after gunman kills 3

By Kathy Finn

(Reuters) - A manhunt was underway in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday for a gunman involved in four shootings that left at least three people dead and two injured, authorities said.

The gunman, who was described as a white male in a white pickup truck, went on the killing spree in the predominantly black neighborhood of north Tulsa early on Friday morning, said Tulsa City Council member Jack Henderson.

"People are fearful," Henderson said. "They are afraid they can't walk down the street."

Both the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service joined local police in a manhunt for the shooter, said Officer Jason Willingham, spokesman for the Tulsa Police Department.

The FBI was seeking to determine whether the shootings were a hate crime, said FBI spokesman Special Agent Clay Simmonds in Oklahoma City.

"This is now a manhunt," Henderson said. "They are working around the clock to bring this person to justice."

Eyewitnesses told police that as the shooter drove through the neighborhood around 1 a.m. on Friday, he stopped several people who were walking along a street to ask them for directions, Henderson said. The pedestrians spoke with the man but did not know the location he asked about and began walking away. As they stepped away, the driver shot at them, killing one, then sped away, Henderson said.

In another incident, the body of a man identified as William Allen, 31, was found lying in front of a funeral home, although it was not clear whether he was shot at that location, police said.

The same gunman fired in four separate shooting incidents within a 1-mile (1.6-km) radius that left three dead and two injured, police said. Among the three dead were two men, identified as Allen and Bobby Clark, 54, and one woman, Dannaer Fields, 49.

The surviving victims told police that they were sitting in front of their house when a white Chevrolet pickup truck with rust spots on the hood pulled up and the driver asked for directions. After a brief exchange of information, the suspect produced a handgun and fired, striking both unidentified victims, and then drove off, police said.

Henderson urged his constituents to come together to help law enforcement find the suspect and to refrain from any "vigilante" or "race-riot type" of activity.

"There are groups of people who don't normally talk to police, for various reasons, but this is not the time for that," he said. "It's a time for people to come together to help."

The city's long history of racial tensions between the white and black communities was spotlighted by NAACP Tulsa area chapter president Warren Blakney but downplayed by Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

"We're very concerned about it, obviously, that some crazy person did something terrible," Bartlett said.

(Reporting by Kathy Finn in New Orleans; Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Sandra Maler)