The three separate weekend attacks occurred in Columbus, Ga., and Phenix City, Ala.

By Christine Pelisek
June 15, 2021 02:22 PM
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Justin Tyran Roberts
Justin Tyran Roberts
| Credit: Columbus Police Department

A weekend shooting spree that injured five people in Alabama and Georgia was racially motivated, police allege.

At a preliminary hearing Monday 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 Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports.

The three separate attacks in Columbus, Ga., and Phenix City, Ala., began on Friday around 8:15 p.m. when a white male was shot as he was climbing out of his car outside the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in in Phenix City, the Ledger-Enquirer reports. He sustained non-life threatening injuries. Roberts allegedly 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 allegedly fired on a man as he was getting into his vehicle under the Oglethorpe Bridge in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer. He was struck in the back and has since been released from the hospital, the Ledger-Enquirer reports.

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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.

It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea. His public defender in Georgia could not be reached for comment.