Tribe Wants Hate Crime Charges Against Parks Employee Who Shot 2 Native Americans Because He Thought They Were Homeless

Wyoming Tribe Wants Hate Crime Charges Against Roy Clyde
Police officers surround Roy Clyde, who's accused of fatally shooting one man and injuring another
Tibby McDowell/Riverton Ranger/AP

07/22/2015 AT 08:35 AM EDT

A Wyoming tribe is calling for federal hate crime charges against Roy Clyde, the 32-year-old man who is accused of shooting two Native Americans in their beds because he believed they were homeless.

On Tuesday, the Northern Arapaho Tribe made the demand of federal authorities, saying that there's been an increase of "violence against Indian people" around the area, according to the Associated Press.

"It's our responsibility as tribal leaders to do everything we can to try and stop these crimes of hate," Dean Goggles, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, said in a statement.

Clyde is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for killing one of the men and critically injuring the other at the Center of Hope detox facility in Riverton, Wyoming. Authorities say that the veteran city parks employee was tired of cleaning up after the homeless, telling investigators that "he had been considering killing people he referred to as 'park rangers.' "

In Riverton, the term "park rangers" refers to homeless alcoholics, many of whom are American Indians who come in to the city from the nearby Wind River Indian Reservation, home to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, to drink, according to the AP. Alcohol is illegal on the reservation.

In his confession to police, Clyde insisted "that his decision was not race-based and that he was targeting transient people regardless of race. He specifically indicated that if he had encountered white people meeting his criteria, he would have killed them as well."

But there is no evidence that the two men, or anyone at the facility, were actually homeless. The two men were, however, Native Americans.

The victims "are members of our tribe, they are human beings and they matter to us," Norman Willow, a member of the business council, said in a statement. "We are sickened by what happened here."

Added Riverton Mayor John "Lars" Baker: "If the Department of Justice feels that they have to prosecute that as a hate crime, I don't think they'll find an awful lot of opposition."

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