Where’s the media? Police say black man killed one person, injured seven at Memorial Day mass shooting

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TAFT, OK — Authorities said a 26-year-old black man was in custody after one person was killed and seven people were injured in a shooting early Sunday at an outdoor festival in eastern Oklahoma, where witnesses described frantic people running for cover amid gunfire.

Officials say the suspect, Skyler Dewayne Buckner, was taken into custody after turning himself in at the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect’s motive has not been revealed.

Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Edwards could not immediately provide Buckner’s hometown, and he also declined to say if there were other suspects in the case or if other arrests were pending, citing the ongoing investigation.

However, he said casings from four different caliber guns were found at the scene of the shootings.

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Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) agents arrived at the scene of the mass shooting in Taft, Oklahoma after eight people were shot during a Memorial Day festival, which had food trucks and a DJ.

OSBI said Buckner killed a 39-year-old black woman and injured seven others whose ages range from nine to 56. Only one juvenile was injured, but officials initially thought there were two juveniles injured.

 

Tulsa World reported:

“The names of the person killed and those injured had not been released Sunday.

“But witnesses at the scene Sunday said the woman who was killed died after reportedly being struck in the head.

“Witnesses said several of the injured were struck in the legs and did not appear to have life-threatening injuries.

“The eight that were struck in the shooting were all transferred to the hospital in Muskogee and three patients were then transferred to a hospital in Tulsa for treatment, the OSBI said.”

The shooting happened at Old City Square Saturday night at a Memorial Day event with an estimated 1,500 people in attendance.

The Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office was in attendance and was able to immediately render first aid to victims, according to a report by KTUL News.

Witnesses said an argument preceded the gunfire just after midnight, OSBI said.

Sylvia Wilson, an owner of Taft’s Boots Cafe, told The Associated Press:

“We heard a lot of shots and we thought it was firecrackers at first. Then people start running and ducking. And we were yelling at everyone… ‘Get down! Get down!’”

Jasmayne Hill, who was working at a food truck during the event, told Tulsa World:

“Bullets were literally flying everywhere.”

Hill said she and the owner of the Kountry Queens food truck, Tiffany Walton, dove to the floor inside the food truck, trying to hide from flying bullets:

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

Walton, a Taft resident, said the town for decades has held a multi-day Memorial Day festival that usually lasts from Friday through Sunday with a parade on Monday.

Walton also said not only do most of the town’s 220 or so residents turn out, but also many people from all over the country: 

“We are a small community. Everybody is family-based. This did not come from our community. This came from people outside of our community.”

At least one large bullet hole could be seen on the outside of the truck, not far from where the truck’s propane tank was located, Walton said.

Tulsa World reported:

“Hill said the shooting began with an initial ‘pop’ that sounded like a firework.

“But then she said, a much-louder, high-caliber-type weapon could be heard firing rapidly, as if it was some sort of automatic weapon.

“‘It was something like right out of a movie,’ Hill said.

“‘It (lasted) a long time,’ Walton said.” 

Walton also noted that it was her first night in business with her food truck:

“And this had to happen.”

By late Sunday morning, law enforcement had cleared the scene, and only the owners and employees of two food trucks remained in the area, along with a few passersby.

Authorities had also removed crime scene tape of the area, along with markings of where gunshot shell casings were found.

Witnesses said there was at least 40 marked points where shell casing were found, all around the area.

Neicy Bates and her husband, Triirmain Bates, were operating the Fat Fries food truck when the shots were fired. Bates described a chaotic scene to Tulsa World:

“Most people were just going to the ground trying to get out of the way. I ran out because I have kids and they were out here. 

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

Neicy Bates said her grandmother, Lelia Foley, who became the first black female mayor in U.S. history when she was elected mayor of Taft in 1973, continued to organize the annual Memorial Day events.

The former mayor was up most of the night following the shootings, talking with residents and assisting authorities, Bates said and added:

“She’s devastated.”

Taft, founded around 1902, is one of only 13 predominantly black towns still existing in Oklahoma, according to Tulsa World’s report.

The state once was home to more than 50, more than any other state.

Originally called Twine, the town was renamed Taft in 1905 after William Howard Taft, who became the 27th president of the United States.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Sunday issued a statement on Twitter:

“I have been informed of the shooting in Taft. I am grateful for

@OSBI_OK‘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.”

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