Shoot­ing takes place Sun­day in back­yard

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ter­ence Chea and Olga R. Ro­driguez

FRESNO >> Po­lice searched Mon­day for two as­sailants who sneaked into a back­yard party in Fresno and opened fire while a small crowd watched foot­ball on tele­vi­sion. Four peo­ple were killed and six wounded.

The house where a group of Hmong fam­ily and friends had gath­ered was de­lib­er­ately tar­geted on Sun­day evening, but the shoot­ers fired at ran­dom once they saw men in the yard watch­ing foot­ball, po­lice said.

“They fired ran­domly into the crowd. It does not ap­pear that they were tar­get­ing any in­di­vid­u­als, and once they fired, they fled,” Fresno Po­lice Chief An­drew Hall said.

Hall said there was no im­me­di­ate word on a mo­tive, and so far there was no in­di­ca­tion that any of the vic­tims knew their at­tack­ers, though most could not see them, de­scrib­ing see­ing only flashes when the semi­au­to­matic pis­tols were fired. Of­fi­cers went doorto-door look­ing for sur­veil­lance video that might help them track down sus­pects.

The party “was not de­scribed as be­ing out of con­trol in any way. It was just a fam­ily event,” Hall said. The chief said the shoot­ing scene was graphic and that of­fi­cers are mak­ing the case a pri­or­ity.

“We’ve got a sin­gle fo­cus within the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and this is not go­ing to be tol­er­ated in the South­east (Asian) com­mu­nity or any other com­mu­nity in Fresno,” he added.

Cal­i­for­nia has the na­tion’s high­est pop­u­la­tion of Hmong, a South­east Asian eth­nic mi­nor­ity, and Fresno has the sec­ond-high­est pop­u­la­tion in the United States.

The men who died ranged in age from 21 to 40, he said.

Three were found dead when emer­gency crews ar­rived. A fourth per­son died at a hos­pi­tal. Two re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Mon­day.

Pao Yang, CEO of the Fresno Cen­ter, a Hmong com­mu­nity group, said two of the vic­tims were well­known Hmong per­form­ers, in­clud­ing a man who sings for men­tal health clients monthly. He said com­mu­nity el­ders have reached out to the cen­ter for help in the wake of the vi­o­lence.

“Our com­mu­nity is in mourn­ing, and we still don’t know what’s go­ing on, or who are the sus­pects,” he said.

Hall said po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the shoot­ing was con­nected to a re­cent dis­tur­bance in­volv­ing some of the peo­ple at the party. He also an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of an Asian gang task force ahead of the Hmong New Year, out of con­cern about the pos­si­bil­ity of more vi­o­lence or re­tal­i­a­tion.

Con­cep­cion Soto, who has lived next door to the home where the shoot­ing oc­curred for 12 years, said the fam­ily there was al­ways friendly.

“They would have par­ties in their back­yard, but they wouldn’t play mu­sic. They would just drink and talk,” she said. “They have been very good neigh­bors.”

Some res­i­dents com­plained of other shoot­ings in the neigh­bor­hood re­cently, though. The home where the at­tack took place is near an in­dus­trial area with com­mer­cial build­ings near the Fresno air­port.

Calvin Gati­son, who lives on the same block, said the street had been peace­ful for years, but at least two shoot­ings hap­pened in re­cent weeks.


Fresno po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors work the drive­way where a shoot­ing took place at a house party which in­volved mul­ti­ple fa­tal­i­ties and in­juries in Fresno on Sun­day.

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