$15,000 reward in shooting deaths of 4 Hmong American men

November 22, 2019 GMT

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A $15,000 reward is being offered for tips leading to the arrest of two suspects who fatally shot four men at a weekend party as grieving family and friends prepare for funerals.

Several fundraisers have been organized for the victims, who were killed when unknown gunmen entered a home Sunday through an unlocked gate and opened fire on people watching a football game in the backyard.

The victims are of Hmong descent and the shooting has rattled Fresno, home to the second-largest Hmong community in the U.S. There are about 300,000 Hmong in the country.

Paula Yang, spokeswoman for families of two of the four victims, says the families are struggling. “They’re still in a state of shock. Is this real? Is this happening? It’s not easy to accept,” she said.

Yang and others hope to increase the reward money being offered by Crime Stoppers. Six other men were wounded in the shooting.

The victims include Xy Lee, 23, a popular singer in the community, and Kalaxang Thao, 40, who is survived by two daughters and a pregnant wife, according to a GoFundMe site.

The other victims are Phia Vang, 31, who supported his parents and younger siblings with earnings from his job delivering clinical lab results. His father Seng Vang shared a video of his son playing guitar alongside Lee, the singer.

“My son is a good son,” Vang told The Fresno Bee. “He’s a good man.”

The shooting occurred at the home of the fourth victim, Kou Xiong, 38, a gregarious sushi chef who loved hosting parties. Xiong is survived by his wife and young daughter.

“He was a big part of our lives and he took care of every one of us,” his cousin, Chris Xiong, told The Fresno Bee.

Both Vang and Xiong were children when they moved to the United States from Thailand as part of refugee re-location efforts. Hmong fought on the side of the United States in the Vietnam War and after the war, the U.S. moved them to places in Minnesota, California and Wisconsin.

In California, Hmong settled in Fresno and the Central Valley, where sponsors hoped they could find work given their agricultural background.