Police allege that Justin Tyran Roberts, the 39-year-old man who went on a shooting spree over the weekend, was targeting men based on their race. The three separate incidents occurred in Columbus, Georgia, and Phenix City, Alabama, wounding five strangers over 20 hours.

Justin Tyran Roberts was arrested Saturday after the shooting spree that wounded five people, included four white men which police believe he was specifically targeting. It is suspected that the Georgia shooting spree was motivated by race, and authorities claim Roberts was intentionally targeting “military-looking” white men.

The 39-year-old man allegedly shot five people within 20hours, though all are expected to survive. In Columbus, Georgia, Roberts wounded four people late night Friday and into Saturday afternoon. Roberts then shot one person in Phenix City, Alabama.

A preliminary hearing was held Monday at Columbus Recorder’s Court in Georgia. During the hearing, a detective claimed that Justine Tyran Roberts admitted to targeting the individuals based on race, suggesting that the men he shot were targeted because they were white.

During preliminary hearing, investigators allege that Justin Tyran Roberts targeted victims based on race.
During preliminary hearing, investigators allege that Justin Tyran Roberts targeted victims based on race. Photo Credit: YouTube

Detective Brandon Lockhart said in his testimony that “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.” According to Lockhart, Roberts claimed that men had been shooting him with a slingshot in the woods and that the injuries caused a skin infection.

Upon examination, police found no marks or wounds of that nature on Justin Tyran Roberts, and it was suggested that the shooter be sent for a mental health evaluation. Based on the evidence, it was purported that Roberts had believed those who allegedly shot him with slingshots were military-looking white men, and so he decided to enact revenge.

The shooting spree was divided into three separate attacks in Georgia and Alabama. It began on Friday at around 8:15 p.m. when Roberts shot a white man while he was getting out of his car near a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Phenix City. The man’s injuries were not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Two hours later, Justin Tyran Roberts proceeded to shoot three more people in Columbus, Georgia, including two white men and one black woman. The final attack occurred at around 2 p.m. Saturday under the Oglethorpe Bridge in Columbus. Roberts allegedly opened fire on a man who was getting into his vehicle. The bullet struck the man’s back, but he has since been released from the hospital.

Justin Tyran Roberts will undergo a mental health evaluation after the judge in Monday’s court hearing agreed to Roberts’ public defender’s request. In the bridge shooting, he is charged with aggravated assault, using a gun to commit a crime, as well as carrying a firearm as a convicted felon.

For the attacks on Friday in Columbus, Roberts is charged with three counts of aggravated assault, using a gun to commit a crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. It is unclear whether Roberts has been charged for the first attack in Phenix City.

Roberts’ attacks have “cause a lot of fear and anxiety throughout the community,” according to Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson. During a news briefing, Henderson asked residents to support law enforcement by giving any information they can about the shooting spree or the alleged attacker. “Our community is trying to send a message that we’re not going to tolerate senseless violence.”