Bullet found in remains in search for Tulsa massacre victims

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FILE – In this July 21, 2020, file photo, forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield carries a tray of items found at Oaklawn Cemetery during a test excavation in the search for possible mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Okla. The examination of remains exhumed from a Tulsa cemetery has not yet confirmed that they are victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre, an investigator said Monday, June14, 2021.(Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP File)

(AP) – A bullet has been found in a set of human remains that were exhumed during a search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a search team member said Friday.

Nine sets of remains have been examined and the bullet was found in the shoulder of a man, forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield said. Other parts of the man’s remains showed similar signs of trauma, including to the head.

“He has multiple projectile wounds,” she said, referring to gunshot wounds.

Stubblefield said she could not identify the type of bullet, which is the only one found thus far among examined remains. Of the nine sets, four are the remains of adults and five are those of juveniles.

The remains have not been confirmed as belonging to victims of the massacre and forensic lab work by Stubblefield is expected to take three to four weeks.

Searchers have found 35 coffins containing remains in Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery and have sent 20 of the coffins for forensic examination, according to state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck.

3rd June 1921: injured and wounded men are being taken to hospital by National guardsmen after racially motivated riots, also known as the “Tulsa Race Massacre”, during which a mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, US. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

One exhumed coffin, believed to be for an infant, contained no identifiable human remains, according to Stubblefield.

Stackelbeck said the search, which in October revealed the first 12 sets of remains, has concluded and that the findings will be analyzed before a recommendation will be made on whether to search the cemetery again.

Searches of two other Tulsa locations where massacre victims are believed to have been buried are planned.

The 1921 massacre occurred when a white mob descended on the Black section of Tulsa — Greenwood — and burned more than 1,000 homes, looted hundreds of others and destroyed its thriving business district. Most historians who have studied the event estimate the death toll to be between 75 and 300.

Kavin Ross, chairman of the Public Oversight Committee for the search, called the findings thus far sobering.

“We are so hopeful for more findings. … There was no documentation of the few that we did find, by the city or anywhere else. … I am so happy that we did at least find these folks,” Ross said.

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