2 held in shootings at Tulsa festival

Meng Lee (left) and Boonmlee Lee were arrested in the Tulsa shootings.
Meng Lee (left) and Boonmlee Lee were arrested in the Tulsa shootings.

TULSA, Okla. — Gunfire left five people injured at a traditional Hmong New Year’s festival, rattling a peaceful, tight-knit community of about 4,000 in east Tulsa.

Two men were arrested in connection with the shooting, but some feared Sunday that the rampage could deter other Hmong from attending upcoming cultural celebrations, including one set for later this month.

‘‘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.


‘‘And I know a lot of other people will not come [to the Oct. 26-27 event] because of that,’’ she said.

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Hmong are an Asian ethnic group mainly from Laos and 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 of five people at Saturday’s festival, authorities said Sunday. Authorities were holding 21-year-old Boonmlee Lee and 19-year-old Meng Lee, both of Tulsa. Each faces five counts of shooting with intent to kill plus firearms charges.

Tulsa police spokesman Captain Steve Odom said a gun was recovered but that it will have to be tested to see if it is linked to the Saturday night 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.

Associated Press