Man Accused of Shooting 5 People in Alabama, Georgia Allegedly Said He Was Targeting White Men 

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

Justin Tyran Roberts
Justin Tyran Roberts. Photo: 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.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

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.

Related Articles