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Police: Tulsa shootings possibly connected to murder of suspect's father

Two men suspected of killing three African Americans and wounding two were arrested Sunday morning north of Tulsa, Okla. NBC's Charles Hadlock reports.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET: TULSA, Okla. -- After a two-day manhunt, police arrested two men early Sunday in connection with a Good Friday shooting spree in Tulsa's predominantly black north side that left three people dead and two others wounded.

Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were held on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill. Police identified both suspects as white males, although earlier court records identified a Jacob Carl England, born on the same date, as American Indian.

Police are examining whether the shootings might be a hate crime, as England, 19, had posted racially charged comments on his Facebook page about the two-year anniversary of his father's death, the Tulsa World reported.

England wrote: “Today is two years that my dad has been gone shot by a f------ n----- it's hard not to go off between that and sheran I'm gone in the head.”

Sheran Hart Wilde, his girlfriend, died earlier this year.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan and task force commander Major Walter Evans discuss the arrest of two suspects in shootings that left three dead and two wounded.

Watts, his roommate, commented beneath his post: “I kno i miss them 2. My last meomeries were great ones of them. Its nt goodbye its c u later.”

On his Facebook page, Watts describes himself as single, interested in women and a "very proud daddy." Court records show that he was charged in 2009 for aggravated assault and battery, but those charges were dismissed nearly three years later. In 2006, he pled guilty to domestic violence, a misdemeanor offense, and paid a $649.90 court fine.

England's father, Carl England, 47, was shot and killed during an argument at an apartment complex two years ago; his death led to charges against a 38-year-old black man, KJRH.com reported. The man, Pernell Jefferson, was charged with pointing a gun and is scheduled to be released in 2014, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Task force commander Maj. Walter Evans said at a press conference Sunday that the two men were taken into custody just north of the city at 1:47 a.m. He credited the 40 or so tips to the Crime Stoppers hotline that started pouring in Saturday after the police asked members of the community for help cracking the case. 

When asked by a reporter whether England's father's death had played a role in the shootings, Evans said he couldn't be sure, "but there is a connection."

Noting that whether to charge the two men with a hate crime would be up to the prosecutor, Police Chief Jordan said, “If someone was obviously engaged in a hate crime, we need to show the community that’s what we charge them for.”

The shootings happened around 1 a.m. Friday within a three miles of each other. All five victims were out walking when they were shot. Police have said they don't believe victims knew each other.

More than two dozen officers were called in to investigate the case, along with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies.

Tipsters told police to look for a white man driving a white Chevrolet pickup with a loud exhaust, which had been spotted near three of the shootings. Tulsa City Councilman Jack Henderson told Reuters that witnesses saw one of the shooters drive through the neighborhood and stop pedestrians for directions. As they walked away, he shot at them.

Other tipsters contacted Crime Stoppers to inform police that England had the truck, and that he planned to burn it. Deputies found a burned truck around 6 p.m. on Saturday and traced it to England.

The dead were identified as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31, according to Reuters. The two wounded men, who were not identified, were expected to survive.

'We're all nervous': Tulsa, Okla., on edge after shooting spree

Though all of the victims were black, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told Reuters on Saturday it was too early to know whether the shootings were racially motivated.

However, KRMG TV reported Saturday that the FBI had announced that the shootings would be investigated under federal hate crime legislation.

NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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