The brutal murder of two innocent men in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month was initially thought to have been random, but prosecutors now suspect the black male who claimed responsibility had chosen his victims because they were white.
The shooting rampage
61-year-old Carlton Gilford marched into Rudisill Library on North Hartford the morning of April 18 and fatally shot 35-year-old Lundin Hatchcock in the back of the head, according to police.
Hatchcock was sitting at a computer desk, minding his own business.
The victim's mother told KOTV-TV that her son was a selfless husband who had strong faith, loved God, and had a passion for helping other people, calling his slaying "a tragedy."
Kirby Ellis, the victim's cousin, indicated Hatchcock was well liked and stressed, "Nobody deserves to go through that."
The 35-year-old's killer was evidently not done violently expressing his racial hatred.
Police indicated that Gilford then drove to the nearby QuikTrip gas station and shot 55-year-old James McDaniel in the face — a grievous crime reportedly captured on surveillance cameras.
According to investigators, after McDaniel had collapsed to the ground, Gilford reloaded his weapon and shot him in the head again.
After executing McDaniel, Gilford reportedly shot at a security guard inside the convenience store, who ultimately got out unscathed.
Eye witness Carol Starks told KJRH, "I heard pop, pop and saw people coming out of the QuikTrip. They were scared to death I guess because the shooter just shot the guy in the back of the head in there and didn't know if he was going to shoot at them either."
Police captured Gilford without incident. He was taken to a hospital for what Tulsa World indicated was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but is no longer in critical condition.
The Tulsa Police Department indicated Tuesday that there was no connection between the victims and the suspect.
District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler indicated that Hatchock and McDaniel were targeted because they were white, reported KOTV.
"The information suggests that race played a role in it and 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," said Kunzweiler.
Extra to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill, Tulsa County prosecutors hit Gilford with Oklahoma's version of a hate crime charge, referred to as "malicious intimidation or harassment because of race."
While Gilford admitted to police that he shot the victims, it is presently unclear if he similarly confessed his motivations.
Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin did, however, tell Fox 23, "Our investigation has led us to the fact that, yes he did target those individuals and sought them out because of their skin color."
Gilford is being held without bond. His preliminary hearing is set for June 23.
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