TULSA, Okla. — Two Oklahoma men suspected in a shooting rampage that left three people dead and terrorized Tulsa’s black community appeared in court Monday and had bond set at more than $9 million each.
Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, appeared via closed-circuit television from jail. Both are being held on suspicion of 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. They will be formally charged at a later date.
Neither man had an attorney present Monday. The judge set bond at $9.16 million apiece and scheduled their next appearance for April 16.
Police have identified both suspects as white, while all five victims in the early Friday shootings were black. Police and the FBI cautioned that it was too early to say whether the attacks in Tulsa’s predominantly black north side were racially motivated. Police spokesman Jason Willingham said that based on Facebook postings attributed to Mr. England, a wish to avenge the death of his father might have been a factor.
A Thursday Facebook update that appeared to have been written by Mr. England blamed his father’s death on a black man and used a racial slur. The posting said Thursday was the second anniversary of his father’s shooting death.
“It’s hard not to go off,” given the anniversary and the death of his fiancee earlier this year, the posting said.
“It’s apparent from the posting on the Facebook page that he had an ax to grind, and that was possibly part of the motive,” Mr. Willingham said. “If you read the Facebook post and see what he’s accused of doing, you can see there’s a link between the two of them.”
The Facebook page had been taken down by Sunday afternoon.
Family and friends say Carl England’s death sent his son into a downward spiral.
Back in 2010, Carl England had responded to his daughter’s call for help and with her boyfriend tracked down the man who tried to break in. A fight broke out, and the man took out a gun and fired at England.
The man who pulled the trigger, Pernell Jefferson, was not charged with homicide because an investigation determined he acted in self-defense.
Mr. Watts‘ brother, Gene, told the Tulsa World that Mr. Watts moved in with Mr. England soon after his father died to help him deal with his anger, which seemed to be racially focused, to pay bills and to get his life back together. He said his brother also had some issues, but he would be shocked if he was involved in the shootings.
“I can’t believe it, and I know the world can’t believe it either. I’m just sorry about the whole ordeal. My heart goes out to everyone affected,” Gene Watts said.
Alicia Houston told the newspaper she has known Mr. England since he was a child and “from the time his father died, that boy has been somebody else.” She said Mr. England needed therapy “from the beginning” but didn’t receive it. He was taking medication for depression, she said.
Acting on an anonymous tip and backed by a helicopter, police followed Mr. England and Mr. Watts from the home they shared in Turley and arrested them Sunday without incident, police said.
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A carefully guided tour through the confusing world of modern bookselling and publishing.
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal