Shooting in Fresno, Calif., Leaves 4 Dead, 6 Others Wounded
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Four people are dead and six others wounded after a mass shooting in Fresno, Calif. The shooters are still at large, and the community is now coping with the aftermath. Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall provided this detail about the crime earlier today.
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ANDY HALL: What I can tell you is this was not a random act. It appears that this incident was a targeted act of violence against this residence.
CORNISH: Joining us now is member station KQED's Alex Hall. She's not related to the police chief. Alex covers California's Central Valley.
Alex, I want to start by getting more detail on what authorities are saying about the shooting. What have you learned so far?
ALEX HALL, BYLINE: Well, the attack happened at a residence in southeast Fresno just before 8 p.m. on Sunday. It was at a party where family members were watching a football game. And some of the family members were in the backyard. That's where the shooting started.
Right now, authorities have confirmed that four individuals have died - three at the scene last night and then, later on at the hospital, another died in surgery. Six individuals were taken to the hospital, and two are still there. They're in stable condition.
CORNISH: And those victims - what have we learned about them?
HALL: The coroner's office has released the names of those killed. The victims are Xy Lee, 23 years old, of Fresno, who was a famous singer in the Hmong community; Phia Vang, 31 years old, of Fresno; Kou Xiong, 38 years old, of Fresno, who lived at the house where the shooting took place; and Kalaxang Thao, 40 years old, of Fresno. All of the victims were adult men of Hmong or of other Southeast Asian descent.
CORNISH: As we mentioned earlier, the shooters are reportedly still at large. Who are the police looking for?
HALL: Well, we know from the police that the gunmen entered the backyard through an unlocked side gate where a group of men in the family were watching the football game. As of now, we don't know a lot about the shooters, although police said that they believe that they were males. Part of the reason is that it was really dark in the backyard - so dark, in fact, that witnesses said when the shooting started, they only saw flashes of light.
But Chief Hall did say that authorities believe there were, in fact, two shooters - at least two - judging from the shell casings that were found at the scene and that those individuals either fled on foot or, perhaps, in a vehicle.
CORNISH: Given what the police chief said about this being targeted, what has the community reaction been?
HALL: Well, I think a lot of people are feeling really scared. This is a large community of Hmong families in this neighborhood in southeast Fresno where the shooting took place. When I was at the crime scene last night, neighbors seemed really shaken. They described this as a quiet, calm community that recently has seen several instances of gun violence, but that was something new. So they were really surprised that this was happening.
People are really worried about safety, especially with the Hmong New Year celebration coming up right after Christmas. There's going to be a huge event here in Fresno next month, with people coming even from outside of the area. So that's something that people are looking ahead to and concerned about. And Fresno police have even said that there could be fears of retaliation in the community.
CORNISH: But do they have a motive? I mean, what's spurring that?
HALL: Well, so authorities have hinted at the possibility that this could've been gang-related. Chief Andy Hall said that there have been several recent incidents in this community in this region that he said indicated an uptick of gang activity in the area. But he was clear that police don't have reason to believe this shooting is connected to that uptick. He said Fresno PD is establishing an Asian gang task force to respond to this and just simply that gang violence is something that police are not ruling out.
CORNISH: That's Alex Hall from KQED reporting from Fresno. Thank you.
HALL: Thank you.
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