A 39-year-old black man accused of shooting and injuring five people in Alabama and Georgia told authorities that his attacks were racially motivated and he was targeting white men, a detective testified on Monday.
Justin Tyran Roberts told police that white men had picked on him and wronged him all his life.
“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, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
Roberts also alleged that those men were “shooting at him in a wooded area with a slingshot,” and that his skin was wounded, testified the investigator, who added that the police didn’t find the wounds to substantiate that claim.
Lockhart also testified during the preliminary hearing on Monday that the alleged shooter said about one of the gunfire victims, “I had to have him.”
Roberts has been accused by law enforcement officers of opening fire on five people during three different attacks. All five are expected to recover, Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon said Sunday.
He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, gun possession after felony conviction, and possession of a gun during commission of a crime, in addition, police said that the firearm was stolen and added a theft charge.
Robin King, a public defender, issued a request for mental health evaluation of the accused aggressor, alleging that he is suffering from delusion.
“The officer’s testimony has demonstrated that Mr. Roberts is having delusions and a disconnect from reality,” King told the judge.
Police said the first person was hurt in a shooting Friday night at a hotel in Phenix City. Less than two hours later, three people were shot in Columbus. A fifth person was shot Saturday afternoon.
Police said there is no evidence that Roberts knew any of the victims.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.