US gunman kills 3

2012-04-08 08:52

Washington - Authorities in Oklahoma launched a manhunt on Saturday for a gunman suspected in four shootings in the city of Tulsa that killed at least three people, officials said.

"It pains me to talk about such a violent event that we in this community have not seen certainly in modern history," Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said about the shooting, urging people to watch for clues of the lone suspected shooter.

"We need your help. This is not a game," he said at a news conference.

No witnesses have yet come forward.

The gunman, who authorities described as an unidentified white male travelling in a white pickup truck, was said to have killed three people and left two others critically wounded early on Friday at four different locations within a 4.8km radius.

Hate crime?

All of the victims were black and investigators said they were looking into whether the shootings were hate crimes, although Tulsa police chief Chuck Jordan cautioned it had not yet been determined whether the incidents were in fact racially motivated.

He said the FBI and US Marshals Service had joined the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to form a joint task force to track down the suspected shooter, who was believed to have used a small-calibre gun.

"This is Tulsa, Oklahoma. We should have the ability to stand out on your porch anytime, day or night, that you want to, to walk down the street, day or night," said Jack Henderson, city counsellor for District 1, where the shootings took place.

"And the only way that this person is going to be brought to justice is we need some leads. We need some people to come forward. We need people to tell what it is that you know. Or that you heard."

He urged local residents to overcome their misgivings toward police to help with the investigation.

The local chapter of the African American rights group NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) held an emergency meeting late on Friday after the shootings and urged immediate action to find the shooter, local media reported.

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