TULSA, Okla. – Police arrested a 40-year-old man on a murder complaint in connection with two hit-and-run crashes that investigators believe targeted homeless people in Tulsa.
Jeremy Thacker was arrested Tuesday on complaints of first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon, Tulsa police spokeswoman Jeanne (GEE'-nee) MacKenzie said. MacKenzie said Thacker didn't speak to detectives, but that damage on his truck was consistent to both crashes.
It was not immediately clear if Thacker had an attorney.
Police first recovered a white pickup truck near a rock quarry in north Tulsa that detectives linked to the attacks. Thacker was arrested nearby a short time later.
The first crash occurred Monday morning under an interstate overpass and appeared to be a deliberate attack, Tulsa Police Sgt. Stephen Florea told the Tulsa World.
"The pickup truck actually circled the block a couple of times before coming back, driving up over the curb and driving down the sidewalk to run over these individuals," Florea said. "There's just no way this could have been an accident."
He said the vehicular assault killed 46-year-old Shawn Birdo and hospitalized 49-year-old Cynthia Wallace, who suffered severe injuries. Both victims were sleeping at the time. Another man suffered a minor leg injury.
Hours later, another homeless woman was hospitalized after her legs were run over in a separate crash. Florea said evidence suggests that the driver swerved to hit the woman, who was sitting on a curb. Witnesses described the driver as a white man in his 40s.
The man who suffered a minor injury in the first crash, James Russell, said many homeless people sleep on the streets because they have nowhere else to go.
"I was very lucky today, and I'm very sorry that the people who were hit were hurt so bad and one lost his life," Russell said. "What the man did was terribly wrong, and I hope he's caught."
This item has been updated to correct the spelling of the victim's name to Shawn Birdo, not Shaun Birdough, following updated information from authorities.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com