Shooting takes place Sunday in backyard
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.