Tulsa, Oklahoma – Two men have now died from their injuries after a Black man took part in an alleged shooting spree across Tulsa last week. Police claim that the suspect openly confessed to killing his victims, both White, as he was arrested at a QuikTrip gas station.
According to reports, the violent attacks began last Tuesday morning when police claimed a suspect entered the Rudsill Library, walked up to a White man using one of the computers, and brazenly shot him in the back of the head. The suspect, 61-year-old Carlton Gilford—who is Black—is then believed to have traveled to a nearby QuikTrip gas station and shot another White man in the back of the head.
The victims have since been identified as 35-year-old Lundin Hathcock, who died hours later at a hospital after being shot at the Library, and 55-year-old James McDaniel, who was killed instantly at the gas station. Police allege that the victims were targeted “randomly” by Gilford, and neither victim knew the suspect prior to the crime.
“It’s the randomness,” said Tulsa’s first Black Police Chief, Wendell Franklin, who remained silent on the obvious racial element at play. “That, I think is what takes everyone’s heart, and it certainly took my heart.”
Gilford is believed to have attempted suicide with his own weapon sometime in between the two shootings. Once he began opening fire at the QuikTrip gas station, Police quickly apprehended him and he promptly confessed to the two separate shootings. He was then taken to the hospital for treatment of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his own head and remained in critical condition until Wednesday, where he ultimately survived.
He is now out of the hospital and has been formally charged with two counts of Murder and two counts of Shooting With Intent To Kill.
“Very calm, nonchalant,” Franklin said, describing Gilford’s behavior in the run-up to allegedly killing two White men. “Just like any other person going into the convenience store.”
Gilfrord’s history of criminality is fairly extensive, according to reports. As early as 1998, Gilford had been booked on complaints of driving without a seatbelt, assault and battery, and even child abuse. His most recent arrest, dated 2013, was for eluding the police and transporting a loaded firearm inside a vehicle. Gilford surrendered the weapon and plead guilty to those crimes. As a result, he spent only 17 days of a one-year sentence behind bars.
In the days since the attack played out, local media in Tulsa, as well as institutional figures, like Police Chief Franklin, have endeavored to center the conversation around “mental health,” “gun control,” and increased prayer.
“Right now, there’s no indication from the evidence that we have of mental illness. That’s what we’re trying to figure out and understand more of,” explained Franklin when pressed for a motive. “It is a very difficult situation because there were no alarm bells to ring in this particular instance, and it just happened.
“We need stronger gun laws at the end of the day,” said Tulsa District 1 City Councilor, Vaness Hall-Harper. “It’s always been my sense. Oklahoma has become the wild wild west. Anyone can get a gun and carry it, we need stronger gun laws nationally.”
“Let’s pray,” said Gloria Gonzalez, a bystander interviewed by KTUL Tulsa. “I came over here because my son is mentally ill. He works at the McDonald’s right there, I came to check on him.”
When staring face to face with acts of unspeakable Black violence, however, some appear more optimistic. Tulsa, Oklahoma Mayor, G.T. Bynum, expressed his relief that incidents like these are actually “rare” and that despite the national trends, Tulsa’s homicide rate is lower than the previous year.
“Random incidents of violence like this are rare,” assured Mayor Bynum. “That doesn’t make them any less tragic, but any of us are more likely to be killed in a vehicular accident than in a random incident like this.
“Our homicide rate for 2023 is almost half of what it was at this point in 2022,” he continued. “We are equipping Tulsa police officers with modern technology that allows them to more effectively identify perpetrators of violent crime and get them off the street.”
While the Mayor’s comment may have appeared reassuring on its face, the data tells a different story. According to a report from ABC NewsChannel 8, 2022 was on track to become Tulsa’s deadliest year. Homicides were up 100% from 2021, and two people were killed in the first week of March alone. In 2020, the state of Oklahoma ranked as the 14th most dangerous state in the Union, with Tulsa listed as the most dangerous city in the Sooner State.
When NewsChannel 8 reached out to Mayor Barnum’s office to ask what his plans were to reduce Tulsa’s skyrocketing homicide rate back in 2022, a spokesperson told them he was simply booked and didn’t have time to comment.
“Nobody deserves to go through that,” said Kirby Ellis, cousin of Lundin Hathcock, the victim of the library shooting. “It was still wrong for them to do that. So I just hope justice gets served.”
According to his family, Hathcock will be remembered as being “sweet,” “smart,” and “crafty” despite a long bout with chronic depression and homelessness. Hathcock was new to Tulsa, and would often use the computers in the Library to communicate with family and friends across the country. After he was shot in the back of the head and transported to Ascension St. John Medical Center, however, he was declared medically brain dead, but his donated organs would go on to save approximately eight other lives.
“He was so kind-hearted and so sweet,” said his mother, DeeDee Clapp in an interview with Tulsaworld. “He’d do anything for anybody, anything that he could help them. Even if it was his only place to lay his head and they were total strangers, he’d allow them into his apartment to rest.”
According to the US government data aggregator, Data USA, the non-Hispanic White population of Tulsa Oklahoma barely holds onto majority status at a precarious 53.4%. The number has fallen sharply, when, in 2010, non-Hispanic Whites comprised 62.6% of Tulsa’s population. In the modern day, standing next to a growing Black population of 14.8%, rests a sizeable 17% Hispanic population, as well as a non-Hispanic mixed-race population of 6.2%.
Tragic tales of innocent White people falling victim to gun violence at the hands of Black men are becoming increasingly common in the United States. Just this month, a White family—which included a 6-year-old girl—allegedly came under fire from a Black man all because a Basketball rolled into his yard. In January, a White teenage girl and her cousin were brutally executed in their car by a suspect wielding a silenced pistol. For the crime, police arrested a Black career criminal who was out of prison after serving only 4 years of a 21-year prior sentence.
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