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published on December 31, 2019 - 11:53 AM
Written by Associated Press

(AP) — Police in Fresno announced Tuesday they have arrested six suspected gang members in the shooting deaths of four men last month at a backyard gathering of family and friends.

The victims were killed Nov. 17 when gunmen entered the backyard of a Fresno home through an unlocked gate and opened fire with semiautomatic weapons on people watching a football game in the backyard.

Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall said at a news conference that the suspects are all self-admitted gang members and that they carried out the shooting to retaliate against a rival gang they believed was responsible for the killing hours earlier of the brother of one of the shooters.

Fresno police served 19 search warrants Dec. 26, recovering the two guns used in the slayings, including one that was stolen from Oklahoma.

All the victims were of Hmong descent and the shooting rattled the central California city, home to the second-largest Hmong community in the U.S.

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.

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.

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.


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