The 39-year-old man charged in a weekend shooting spree told Columbus police his assaults were racially motivated, targeting white men he felt had taken from him all his life, a detective testified Monday.
Though police allege Justin Tyran Roberts was involved in three separate assaults that wounded five people Friday and Saturday in Columbus and Phenix City, he was in Columbus Recorder’s Court to face charges in just one of those incidents, a shooting around 2 p.m. Saturday under the Oglethorpe Bridge at Broadway and Fourth Street.
That’s where a man was shot in the back as he was getting into his vehicle in a parking area under the bridge, said Detective Brandon Lockhart, who quoted Roberts as telling police, “I had to have him.”
The victim was hit once in the back, but four bullets hit his vehicle, and police found six shell casings at the scene, Lockhart said.
Under questioning by public defender Robin King, Lockhart elaborated on what Roberts, who is Black, told him during an interview at police headquarters.
“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,” the investigator said.
Roberts also claimed that such men were “shooting at him in a wooded area with a slingshot,” and the wounds had infected his skin, Lockhart testified. Police saw no injuries to substantiate that, he said.