Columbus Police Chief Chief Freddie Blackmon
© Mike Haskey/Columbus Ledger-Inquirer
Columbus Police Chief Chief Freddie Blackmon, center, said Justin Tyran Roberts was arrested around 4 p.m. in the area of Columbus Gardens apartment complex, 435 Third Avenue, in connection to three separate shootings in Columbus and Phenix City police over the past 24 hours.
A black man accused in a 20-hour, two-state shooting spree that wounded five strangers told cops he was motivated by race and intentionally targeted "military-looking" white men he believed wronged him, police said.

Justin Tyran Roberts, 39, was arrested Saturday by police in Columbus, Georgia, where cops say he wounded four people — including two white men — during separate attacks late Friday and Saturday afternoon.

Roberts is also accused of shooting a white man in the back at a hotel in Phenix City, Alabama, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported.

Detective Brandon Lockhart testified Monday that Roberts told police following his arrest that he "had to have" one victim who was shot in the back as he got into a car under the Oglethorpe Bridge in Columbus.

"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," Lockhart testified, recalling what Roberts allegedly told investigators.

Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon said Saturday that all of the victims were expected to recover. Investigators also found no evidence that Roberts knew any of the shooting victims, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.

Justin Tyran Roberts columbus shooting spree suspect
© Columbus Police Department
Justin Tyran Roberts
Roberts also claimed that white men had been "shooting at him in a wooded area with a slingshot," but police found no evidence to back up that assertion, Lockhart testified.

Roberts, a convicted felon, was found with a Taurus 9mm pistol that had been stolen Thursday when he was arrested, Lockhart said.

The alleged shooting spree started one day later at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Phenix City, where a man was hospitalized following the apparently random attack, Blackmon said Saturday.

Roberts fits the description of the gunman in that attack and he's expected to face additional charges in Alabama, the Ledger-Inquirer reported.

Hours later, two white males and a black female were shot elsewhere in Columbus. Roberts is charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault and gun charges in connection to being a convicted felon in that case, the newspaper reported.

Roberts appeared in court Monday to face charges in one of the shootings and his public defender asked a judge to order that he undergo a mental health evaluation, claiming that Lockhart's testimony showed the man is "having delusions and a disconnect from reality," according to the report.

The judge agreed and sent Roberts' charges of aggravated assault, using a gun to commit a crime and being a convicted felon with a firearm to Muscogee Superior Court.

Roberts, whose attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf Monday, was ordered held without bond after a prosecutor cited the random shootings and his alleged racial motive. He's expected to appear for a preliminary hearing in one of the shootings Tuesday, the Ledger-Inquirer reported.

Blackmon had earlier assured Columbus residents that its downtown business area was safe to visit, WRBL reported.

"We want our citizens to know that there is no need to be in fear or be apprehensive of getting about," the police chief said. "We want everyone to continue to get out and know that we take this very seriously. Any incident, shooting incident, any crime that occurs in Columbus, we take it very seriously."