2 in custody in shooting at Hmong festival in Tulsa
TULSA, Okla. — Gunfire that wounded five people during a traditional Hmong New Year's festival rattled a peaceful, tight-knit east Tulsa community, where some feared on Sunday that the rampage could deter others from attending upcoming cultural celebrations.
“It's really sad because a lot of people do not feel safe to go to the other New Year's celebrations. I know there are people who don't want to attend that anymore,” said Joua Xiong, who attended Saturday's celebration along with hundreds of other Hmong people and heard the gunfire break out. “It's very sad because this is the only time we really get to embrace our culture and unite as one.”
Hmong are an Asian ethnic group mainly from Laos who number between 3,000 and 4,000 in Tulsa. Many have traveled to Tulsa from across the country during recent years seeking jobs.
Two men have been taken into custody and face multiple charges in the shooting, authorities said. Boonmlee Lee, 21, and Meng Lee, 19, both of Tulsa, each face five counts of shooting with intent to kill and firearms charges.
It was not clear from jail records whether either had an attorney. An arraignment is pending.
Tulsa police spokesman Capt. Steve Odom said a gun was recovered, but it will have to be tested to see whether it is connected to the shooting. Odom said the alleged shooters and the victims were all Hmong and that there was “probably a relationship” between the men charged and the victims.
The suspects were arrested shortly after the attack, which happened about 8 p.m. A police helicopter that was in the area spotted a car driving away from the scene with its headlights off and notified officers on the ground, who pulled it over.
The suspects had thrown clothes and a semi-automatic handgun believed to have been used in the attack out of the vehicle, police said.
The shooting victims' names were not released.