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Dannaer Fields, age 49. William Allen, 31. Bobby Clark, 54. Those are the three people killed in last week's shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Two others were wounded. All of them were shot, apparently at random, in their predominantly black neighborhood. Two men are jailed, awaiting formal charges for the killings.
NPR's John Burnett is in Tulsa and has this profile of one of the victims, Bobby Clark.
JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: It was his brother, Donny, who found him.
DONNY CLARK: I came through there and then I noticed - I realized it was my brother laying in the street. They shot him up under his armpit, and I think it hit his heart.
BURNETT: Bobby Clark died sprawled on 63rd Street under a streetlight, a few doors down from the house in the Northgate neighborhood in far north Tulsa, where he lived with his brother. They surmise he was simply standing on the corner, waiting for Donny to come back, when he was shot by assailants in a white pickup, who sped away.
Police say Jake England and Alvin Watts, who lived a couple miles away in the same town, have confessed to the shootings. Police say the likely motive is revenge. England was reportedly angry that a black man killed his father two years earlier, in a completely unrelated incident.
Those who know Bobby Clark, an unemployed musician, say he was the least likely person to be killed by violence. His sister-in-law, Tonya Clardy:
TONYA CLARDY: And everybody who we've talked to can't believe that he's – you know, somebody shot him. You know, because it's like, why shoot Bobby? Bobby didn't do nothing to nobody. It's just sad, and he's going to be greatly missed.
BURNETT: She sits in the kitchen of her house in north Tulsa, receiving visitors and answering one call after the next. Bobby Clark had been on disability almost all of his life; he was schizophrenic, and took medication for it. But he was best-known for playing bass guitar in gospel bands, in churches throughout north Tulsa, the largely African-American side of town.
CLARDY: Bobby was a real nice guy. Everybody loved him. Everybody knew he played music. Everybody knew him; he never met a stranger. If he met you once, he'd remember you.
BURNETT: Clark was in and out of public housing. He received his mail, and grabbed a meal, at the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless downtown. Every Tuesday, when he came down to pick up his disability check, Clark would bring his guitar and strum for the people sitting in the big dayroom, says Sandra Lewis, the executive director of the center. She heard about the shooting spree on Friday.
SANDRA LEWIS: And when I heard the name, I prayed it wasn't our Bobby. But then - I guess - we confirmed that Sunday, that it was our Bobby Clark. And all the staff has been very - very sad, very deeply affected by what happened - not just to Bobby, but in our community. It's a horrible, horrible thing.
BURNETT: Clark's brother, Donny, and his sister-in-law, Tonya, hope that the prosecutor charges the pair of suspects under Oklahoma's hate-crime statute.
CLARK: I can't see how they would start targeting innocent black people in the same community, that they might have seen up and down the street at one time or another. I just can't understand it.
CLARDY: I think they should charge them with a hate crime because that's a hateful thing to do. And hate should carry more weight.
BURNETT: Tonya Clardy, a 49-year-old nurse at a long-term care facility in Tulsa, has given a lot of thought to hate in the last five days. She's thought about her own upbringing in west Tulsa in the 1970s, when - she says - racism was raw, and out in the open. She says she and her nine brothers and sisters experienced it going to school.
CLARDY: We got chased home from whites every day 'cause we lived in the projects. But we don't sit there and get angry at them because you know - you grow up and start hating white people because they used to jump us, and stuff. You know, that's no cause to hate anybody. And I feel sorry for anybody, you have that kind of hatred in their heart.
BURNETT: Bobby Clark's extended family is struggling to bury him. Friends set up a donation account at the Bank of Oklahoma, and a local funeral home director says he'll help them out. The funeral is scheduled for Friday, with burial at Crown Hill Cemetery.
John Burnett, NPR News, Tulsa.
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