MURDERS. A memorial for shooting victim Kou Xiong sits in front
of his home where he was shot in Fresno, California. A
close-knit Hmong community is in shock after gunmen burst into a
California backyard gathering and shot 10 men. (Larry
Valenzuela/The Fresno Bee via AP)
From The Asian Reporter, V29, #23 (December 2, 2019),
Deadly attack leaves California Hmong
community in shock
By Terence Chea and Olga R. Rodriguez
The Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. ó A close-knit Hmong community is in shock
after gunmen burst into a California backyard gathering and shot
10 men, killing four.
"We are right now just trying to figure out what to do, what
are the next steps. How do we heal, how do we know whatís going
on," said Bobby Bliatout, a community leader.
The evening attack killed Xy Lee, a Hmong singer and musician
whose videos on YouTube have been viewed millions of times.
Also killed were Phia Vang, 31; Kou Xiong, 38; and Kalaxang
Thao, 40, all of Fresno, according to the coronerís office.
Three others remained hospitalized in serious condition,
Community Regional Medical Center said in a statement.
Police have not determined a motive and no suspects have been
At a vigil, relatives of Xiong set a table with photos,
incense, and white candles outside the house.
Xiong is survived by a wife and young daughter, according to
a GoFundMe page. It describes him as "a humble, kind, and caring
individual who was always willing to help those in need."
"Everybody is crying, our whole city is crying for these
families," said a sobbing Paula Yang, a friend of Xiongís
Xiongís uncle, Neej Xiong, prayed on his hands and knees.
"It shouldíve been me, not you," Neej said. The Hmong are an
ethnic group from Southeast Asia. Many fled after fighting
alongside the United States during the Vietnam War.
There are about 300,000 Hmong living in the U.S., according
to the 2017 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census.
California has the nationís largest Hmong population and about
25,000 live in Fresno, comprising about 5% of the cityís
population of 525,000.
The gunmen targeted a house where about 16 men had gathered
outside to watch football on television, police said. Women and
children had already moved inside.
At least two men armed with semi-automatic handguns walked
through a side gate and began firing randomly into the crowd
before fleeing in the darkness, police chief Andrew Hall said.
The shooters did not speak. Witnesses saw only flashes when
the pistols were fired, Hall said.
Police were investigating whether the shooting was connected
to a recent disturbance involving some of the people at the
party, Hall said. He did not describe the incident other than to
say it had occurred the week prior.
Women and children inside the house werenít hit, Hall said.
The chief said at least 60 officers were investigating along
with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security, and
the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
While police hadnít found any gang connections to the
victims, Hall also announced the establishment of an Asian gang
task force over concerns about retaliation or more violence
ahead of the Hmong New Year, which is celebrated in December.
There have been 11 violent incidents related to Asian gangs
in the city this year, three in November, police said.
An Asian-American man was shot to death at a home earlier
that Sunday but police had not linked that killing to the party
attack, Hall said.
"This is truly a good group of people who were simply having
a party," the chief said.
It was the third mass shooting in four days in California.
The previous Thursday, a 16-year-old boy armed with a handgun
killed two students and wounded three others at his high school
in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita before killing
And on that Saturday, a San Diego man killed his estranged
wife and three of their sons before killing himself. A fourth
son was on life support.
There have been eight mass killings in California so far this
year, claiming the lives of 33 people, according to a database
compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today, and
Northeastern University. Thatís a dramatic increase from
previous years, with eight mass killings for all of 2016-2018.
Rodriguez reported from San Francisco. Associated Press
writer Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and news researcher Rhonda
Shafner in New York also contributed to this report.