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1 dead, 7 injured in shooting at Memorial Day festival in Oklahoma

TAFT, Okla. — Authorities said one person was killed and seven were injured in a shooting early Sunday at an outdoor festival in eastern Oklahoma, with witnesses describing frantic people running for cover as the gunfire erupted.

Two juveniles were among those shot at the Memorial Day event near Taft, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Tulsa, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Witnesses said an argument preceded the gunfire just after midnight, the agency said. No one has been arrested, it said.

“We heard a lot of shots and we thought it was firecrackers at first,” said Sylvia Wilson, an owner of Taft’s Boots Cafe, which was open at the time to serve a surge of visitors to the small town for the Memorial Day weekend gathering. “Then people start running and ducking. And we were yelling at everyone… ’Get down! Get down!” Wilson said to The Associated Press by telephone from the café on Sunday morning.

About 1,500 people attended the event in Taft, which usually has a population of just a few hundred people. Members of the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office were in attendance and immediately began rendering aid, OSBI said.

Bullet holes in the Kountry Queen food truck.
AP/Ian Maule/Tulsa World
Bullet holes in the Country Queen food truck
Two juveniles were shot at the Memorial Day event.
AP/Ian Maule/Tulsa World

The agency provided no other details including the conditions of those injured. The Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office referred the AP to OSBI for more information. A bureau spokeswoman said her agency may have updates later Sunday.

“Bullets were literally flying everywhere,” Jasmayne Hill, who was working at a food truck during the event, told the Tulsa World.

Hill said she and Tiffany Walton, the owner of the food truck, dove to the truck’s floor to avoid the bullets.

Kountry Queens food truck owner Tiffany Walton talks to media at the scene of a shooting at a Memorial Day
Kountry Queens food truck owner Tiffany Walton talks to media at the scene.
AP/Ian Maule/Tulsa World
Bullet holes
One witness claims an argument broke out before the shooting began.
AP/Ian Maule/Tulsa World

“We’re thinking we’re safe and the bullets are like going through the bottom of the food truck,” Hill said. “They didn’t hit us, thank God.”

Neicy Bates and her husband were operating another food truck when the shots rang out. She told the Tulsa World that most people “were just going to the ground trying to get out of the way.”

“People were just screaming. Some were trying to run away. There were cars leaving, trying not to hit each other,” she said.

Walton, who lives in Taft, said for decades the town has held a multi-day festival over Memorial Day weekend.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said on Twitter that he was grateful for the OSBI’s “swift response to assist local police and am confident in Oklahoma law enforcement’s ability to bring justice to whoever is responsible for this deadly incident.”

Wilson estimated her café is about 100 feet (30 meters) from where the shooting broke out. She said law enforcement had been on the scene to help with security earlier and that officers reacted quickly to the shooting.

“We are upset,” Wilson said, adding: “But everything is getting back to normal… The danger has passed.”


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