A Black man has been charged with fatally shooting two White strangers in the back of the head in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of what authorities are calling a racially motivated hate crime.
Carlton Gilford allegedly shot and killed two men to whom he did not have any connection on April 18, according to the Tulsa Police Department.
Police said Gifford, who according to jail records is homeless, went inside the Rudisill Library around 9:40 a.m., walked up behind a man sitting at a desk, and shot him in the back of the head.
The victim, 35-year-old Lundin Hathcock, was rushed to the hospital where he died.
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After the library shooting, police said, Gifford went to a nearby QuikTrip convenience store and shot 55-year-old James McDaniel in the back of the head. When the victim fell to the ground, the suspect shot him again. McDaniel died at the scene.
Police said that surveillance video showed Gilford also fired shots at a security guard and another person outside the QuikTrip. When officers arrived, Gilford was standing outside the store and admitted that he shot two people, according to the department.
Gilford was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill, and one count of malicious intimidation or harassment.
The latter charge is Oklahoma’s version of a hate crime. Under Oklahoma law, there is no specific hate crime statute, but malicious intimidation or harassment includes targeting someone based on their race.
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According to Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, the evidence suggests Gilford, who is Black, shot both men because they were White. The prosecutor didn’t elaborate.
“The information suggests that race played a role in it,” said Kunzweiler, according to local CBS affiliate KOTV. “I feel like that is something we can prove, and it is something that a judge or jury obviously needs to listen to. So, we will present that information along with everything else.”
Jail records show Gilford is due in court June 23. He is currently being held without bond — according to prosecutors for the safety of the public.
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“Whenever you are talking about the dynamic where the safety of the public is at risk, in my mind, somebody who is killing somebody or doing harm toward somebody who they don’t know, that really amps things up,” said Kunzweiler.