Archive for Saturday, August 9, 2003

Kansan dies in gang stabbing at Catholic festival

Marian Days Celebration marred by confrontation between OKC, Wichita rivals

August 9, 2003


— A Kansas man was fatally stabbed Friday in a confrontation between two gangs at the Marian Days Celebration, a national religious festival held each year in southwest Missouri, police said.

Carthage Police Chief Dennis Veach said Quoc Phu Pham, 22, of Wichita, was stabbed multiple times and died from a wound to his chest. Three other people were injured in the 5 a.m. melee, including one who was flown to a hospital with injuries that were less severe than initially thought, Veach said.

Those three were among 14 people who were detained after the killing at the Roman Catholic festival, believed to be the biggest annual gathering of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans in the country.

More than 50,000 people had been expected to flock to the town of 12,500 for the event, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday. Most stay in tents and use portable toilets and showers provided on the grounds, Veach said.

He said the fight involved 15 to 20 people, all of whom were affiliated with a gang from Oklahoma City or one from Wichita.

"This is generally a very mellow affair," Veach said. "It's a family-oriented, religious event. Calls (for police assistance) tend to be very mundane ... locked vehicles, lost children.

"This incident was a confrontation between two groups that clashed with each other," he added. "It did not involve strangers or the general public."

Veach said 25 police officers were on the grounds at all times, although more were on hand Friday afternoon because of the killing.

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