Three Charged with Murder, Robbery in Slaying of Actor Haing S. Ngor
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ After Oscar-winning actor and Cambodian activist Dr. Haing S. Ngor was shot to death, talk in the Cambodian community was that his slaying might have been a political hit.
After all, the doctor was a vocal advocate for establishing medical clinics and delivering humanitarian aid to his homeland when he won an Academy Award in 1984 for ``The Killing Fields.″
However, three teen-age gang members were charged with the Feb. 25 slaying.
Tak Sun Tan, 19, was arrested Friday, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. Jason Chan, 18, and Indra Lim, 19, were arrested earlier on unrelated robbery charges.
A source familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suspects are members of the Oriental Lazyboys, a Chinatown-based gang that specializes in home robberies and carjackings.
They could face the death penalty if convicted because the slaying was committed during a robbery, Gibbons said.
The three face arraignment Monday on murder and robbery charges. No bail was set.
The charges were met with relief and surprise.
``I’m so glad this is over,″ said Sovann Tith, executive director of United Cambodian Community, Inc. in Long Beach, about 20 miles south of Los Angeles and home to the largest population of Cambodians outside their homeland. ``It is a surprise to me to think it was robbery.″
Ngor’s nephew, Pich S. Dom, told KCAL-TV of Los Angeles that the community felt a great relief ``because the criminals have been caught.″
Gibbons would not comment on a motive or say what items were stolen from Ngor, 55, who was shot twice in a dark parking lot as he returned to his Chinatown apartment from visiting friends.
Police initially discounted robbery as a motive. Ngor’s wallet, stuffed with $3,000 in cash, was untouched, New York’s Daily News reported this week.
His pockets had not been rifled, witnesses said.
Relatives who talked with Ngor shortly before he died were quoted in the Daily News as saying he wore a $6,000 Rolex watch and a gold chain and locket, which were missing after the attack.
Ngor won a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Dith Pran in ``The Killing Fields,″ Hollywood’s first look at genocide in Cambodia under Pol Pot’s Communist Khmer Rouge regime.
Dith, an assistant to former New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg, was trapped in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975. Dith is now a Times photographer.
A gynecologist and obstetrician, Ngor himself escaped Cambodia in 1980, after enduring torture, maiming and starvation. He settled in Los Angeles, working for a Chinatown refugee center.