‘Race or Color Played a Role’: Tulsa Prosecutor Says Homeless Black Man Admitted to Fatally Shooting 2 White Men In the Back of the Head Within Minutes of Each Other

The Tulsa Police Department has identified a homeless man in the fatal shooting of two Oklahoma men in April.

One was shot while he was at a local library and the other was killed minutes later at a QuikTrip convenience store.

Authorities are saying the assaults were racially motivated, but the state does not have a felony hate crime law.

Double homicide
Carlton Gilford being arrested by Tulsa police on April 24, 2023. (Photo: Tulsa Police Department/Facebook)

According to a statement released by the TPD, Carlton Gilford, 61,  is the sole suspect in the Tuesday, April 18 shootings of Lundin Hathcock, 35, and James McDaniel, 55. Both men were white, and Gilford is Black.

Related: 3 White Men Chase a Black Man Who Is Later Found Dead with Gunshot Wounds Next to a Dumpster; Judge Raises Questions About Hate Crime Charges, ‘Didn’t See Any’ Other ‘Reason for It’

The man, who allegedly had no connections to either victim, was arrested on Monday, April 24. Now, he faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill, and one count of malicious intimidation or harassment.

Under Oklahoma law, hate crimes are codified as “malicious harassment based on race, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability” and are misdemeanors.

“The information suggests that race played a role in it. 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 Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, according to KOTV 6.

Homicide detectives state Gilford shot Hathcock while he was sitting at a desk inside the Rudisill Library a few minutes before 10 a.m. He walked up behind the man and shot him in the back of the head. Then he shot him again.

Police say Hathcock was “rushed to the hospital in critical condition” before succumbing to his injuries.

Gilford was able to escape authorities after the shooting and make it a few blocks away to the QuikTrip where he allegedly claimed another victim.

Like Hathcock, James McDaniel had no idea that Gilford was on a rampage. He walked up behind this man and shot him. Like the previous victim, he was shot in the back of the head and shot a second time once he was down. McDaniel died at the scene of the crime.

“Surveillance video shows Gilford also fired rounds at a security guard and another person outside the store,” TPD reported. “When Officers arrived, Gilford was standing outside the store. He admitted to Officers on the scene that he shot two people.”

TDP says Gilford is one of 1,133 homeless individuals living in the city, according to its annual “point in time” count rendered by Housing Solutions, an organization charged with overseeing some of Tulsa’s efforts to address homelessness.

While police believe Gilford was a member of Tulsa’s unsheltered population, there has been no mention of how he got his hands on a firearm.

Illegal guns have been an issue for justice departments across the country. In January 2023, the DOJ amped up its fight against the public threat of illegal guns throughout the state, zeroing in on Oklahoma City, a little over an hour away from Tulsa.

Kunzweiler believes that Gilford is a public threat, saying, “Whenever you are talking about the dynamic where the safety of the public is at risk, in my mind, somebody who is killing somebody or doing harm toward somebody who they don’t know, that really amps things up.”

The prosecutor did not reveal details regarding the two deaths and why he believes Gilford committed the equivalent of a hate crime but did say in a statement to Newsweek.

“The allegation in this charge is that race or color played a role in these shootings,” Kunzweiler wrote.

“Based upon the investigation, we have reason to believe that race played a role in the homicides. That evidence will be presented in front of a judge or jury,” reminding the public, “Mr. Gilford has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a judge or jury.”

Currently, Gilford is being held without bond and is due back in court on June 23.

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