|Updated: 4/09/2012 3:54 pm
||Published: 4/09/2012 12:59 pm
Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris says it is too early to call five recent shootings in North Tulsa a hate crime.
Harris addressed the media after the bond hearing for 19-year old Jake England and 33-year old Alvin Watts on Monday. Watts and England were arrested early Sunday morning in connection to the shooting deaths of 3 people and the shooting of two others in North Tulsa on Friday.
The DA's office says men have not been formally charged with any crime at this point, as police are continuing to investigate the crimes and interview witnesses. When the investigation is finished, police will forward a report to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office for review and a determination of formal charges. That likely will take place sometime next week.
There has been speculation the shootings were a hate crime.
State Reps. Jabar Shumate and Seneca Scott commented on the shootings:
“We have received countless calls from constituents regarding the Friday shootings and we want to urge District Attorney Tim Harris to review all aspects of the case to determine whether or not this crime falls under the category of a hate crime and to make sure that justice is fully carried out,” Shumate (D-Tulsa) said. “I think looking into all the angles of the shootings would help the community get more closure on this terrible day.”
“I would like to see this case explored and investigated fully, because it was such an unprecedented string of shootings in Tulsa and the community wants to know what prompted it and what can be done to prevent such a thing from reoccurring,” said Scott (D-Tulsa). “My constituents are just stunned and frightened by these events.”
Harris says if this case was racially motivated, then it needs to be vetted in a court of law, "It’s preliminary to determine what the motivation was behind this, if the evidence supports this and we believe we can prove those elements of a hate crime that will certainly be considered at the appropriate time."
The DA's office says Oklahoma does have a hate crime law, it is a misdemeanor. If the evidence supports that charge, the DA said he will file it.
Harris says this is the highest priority of any case in his office right now.
Watts and England appeared in court via video and a judge set bond at $3 million for each of three murder counts, $75,000 for each count of shooting with intent to kill, and $10,000 for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
The men are scheduled to appear in court again on April 16th.