A weekend shooting spree that left five people injured in Alabama and Georgia was racially motivated, police believe.
At a preliminary hearing in Columbus Recorder’s Court in Georgia, a detective testified that 39-year-old Justin Tyran Roberts, who is black, allegedly admitted to police that he was targeting white men during a series of attacks over two days.
“Basically, he explained throughout his life, specifically white males had taken from him, and also what he described as military-looking white males had taken from him,” Detective Brandon Lockhart testified.
The three separate attacks in Columbus, Ga., and Phenix City, Ala., began on Friday around 8:15 p.m. A white male was shot as he was climbing out of his car outside the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Phenix City, the Ledger-Enquirer reports. He sustained non-life threatening injuries. Roberts then shot three more people – two white men and a black woman – two hours later.
The following day, at about 2 p.m., police believe Roberts fired at a man as he was getting into his vehicle under the Oglethorpe Bridge in Columbus. He was struck in the back and has since been released from the hospital, the Ledger-Enquirer reports.
During the hearing for the Columbus shooting, Lockhart testified that Roberts also told police that men were shooting at him with a slingshot in the woods, which caused him to get a skin infection, the Ledger-Enquirer reports. But police said Roberts had no wounds.
The judge agreed during the hearing to Roberts’ public defender’s request for a mental health evaluation, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
Roberts is charged with aggravated assault, using a gun to commit a crime, and being a convicted felon with a firearm in the bridge shooting. He is also charged with three counts of aggravated assault, using a gun to commit a crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the attacks on the two men and one woman in Columbus, the Ledger-Enquirer reports. It is unclear if he has been charged in the Phenix City shooting.