Police believe that five separate shootings in north Tulsa, Okla. early Friday morning are connected -- and the fact that all five victims are black has local community leaders on edge.
According to The Associated Press, the shootings took place between 1:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., in a three-mile area of north Tulsa. Three of the victims were shot dead and two are in critical condition.
Police don't believe that the victims knew each other, but are treating the crimes as linked because the shootings took place so close together, and because the victims were all out walking at the time they were shot.
Those killed were identified Friday as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, William Allen, 31. The other two victims are in the hospital in critical condition, and have not been identified.
Homicide detective Sgt. Dave Walker said that residents interviewed in the area of the shootings say a white man driving a white pickup truck may have been involved.
The detective told the Tulsa World that residents can expect increased patrols in the neighborhoods where the shootings occurred and across the city.
The NAACP called an emergency meeting in a north Tulsa church Friday evening to discuss what they fear may be a racially motivated shooting spree.
"Word on the street is that this person would drive up to people walking, ask for directions, and when they would turn away, walk away, began firing," Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson told KRMG News after the NAACP meeting concluded. "That's truly a concern, and anybody would be [ill] at ease if you knew this was going on."
"If you systematically target black folks and that's all you shot, and you come to the north side of town and you're a white male, and we know he was a white male, then what is one left to believe?" Rev. Warren Blakney, president of the Tulsa NAACP, told local NBC affiliate KJRH-TV.
Police are calling the shootings an "unprecedented" incident.
"I haven't seen anything like this in my career," Walker told the Tulsa World
The FBI is now involved in the investigation of a series of shootings early Friday that left three people dead and two others injured within three miles of each other in north Tulsa.
FBI Special Agent Clay Simmonds confirmed Saturday that the agency is assisting Tulsa police in the probe.
Simmonds, an FBI spokesman for the state of Oklahoma, said at this point agents are in the initial stages of trying to determine whether any sort of federal law was violated.
NAACP Tulsa president the Rev. Warren Blakney Sr. and Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson indicated at a Friday night event at the North Peoria Church of Christ, 2217 N. Peoria Ave., that it appeared to them the shootings, which were evidently committed by a white man, appeared to be hate crimes.
When asked if he believed the shootings were racially motivated, Blakney said that when there are reports that someone "systematically shot black folk, what is one left to believe?"
Federal hate crime laws apply in situations in which people are attacked because of their race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
Simmonds said if it is established that the shootings did violate federal law, then the FBI could take a greater role in the probe.