COLUMBUS, GA – According to reports, a black man has been arrested in Columbus, Georgia on Saturday after going on what police are calling a “racially motivated” shooting spree over the course of 20 hours and through two states that ultimately left five people – four of them white – wounded.
Justin Tyran Roberts, 39, reportedly told officers that race was a factor in choosing his victims, all of whom were strangers to him. Police stated that the suspect said he specifically targeted white men who were “military-looking” during shootings he carried out on Friday and Saturday in Georgia and Alabama because he believed that they had “wronged” him somehow.
“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 said, and also noted that Roberts had claimed that “white men” had been “shooting at him in a wooded area with a slingshot,” but that there was no evidence to support this.
Roberts, a convicted felon, was discovered to be in possession of a stolen Taurus 9mm pistol at the time of his arrest.
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Roberts allegedly began his shooting spree on Friday when he randomly shot a white man at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Phenix City, Alabama, reports say.
A few hours later, three other individuals – two white males and a black female – were shot in Columbus, Georgia. Another incident took place Saturday afternoon under the Oglethorpe Bridge in Columbus, when Roberts shot a white man in the back as he got into a car; the suspect reportedly told police that “I had to have him” in regards to shooting the victim.
According to Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon, all of the victims are expected to recover from their wounds.
The Columbus, Georgia Police Department announced on their Facebook page that Roberts had been charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and theft by receiving stolen property (firearm). Officials also said that additional warrants will be obtained for three counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Roberts’ attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf Monday, and the suspect – who was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation due to “having delusions and a disconnect from reality” – is being held without bond.