FRESNO, California (KSEE) — It is one year since four men died in a mass shooting in Fresno. For the families of the victims, the shooting could well have been yesterday as the pain from that night is still fresh.
Mai Shoua Yang and her daughter, Phyllis, still cannot believe their rock – Kou Xiong – is gone. Yang said her late husband is the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back.
“If we go to places where he sees someone’s car dying in the middle of the road, he would tell me, ‘You stay in the car and I’ll go help them,'” she said.
Last year, Yang and Xiong’s home on East Lamona Avenue became a crime scene after gunmen shot up their backyard during a Sunday football watch party.
Xiong – along with Xy Lee, Kalaxang Thao, and Phia Vang – were shot and killed. Six other men were hurt.
Fresno Police investigators determined the mass shooting was a revenge plot, retaliation for the death of a Mongolian Boys Society gang member.
Something that has eased the pain this year has been the support not just from the city of Fresno, but from all over. Yang said it felt like the whole world loved her husband.
“It’s like they tried to make us feel like he’s still here. They wanted to help him in any way they could, it makes me really happy,” she said.
Fresno Police arrested six suspects just before New Year’s Day. A seventh suspect was extradited from Minnesota in February. All remain in jail awaiting court hearings.
Yang has this message for them.
“If you guys can’t bring the four of them back alive, then you guys should never be out of prison,” she said.
Four of the suspects – Billy Xiong, Anthony Montes, Porge Kue, and Ger Lee – are due back in Fresno County Superior Court in January.
While the families of the shooting victims continue to grieve, so does the overall Hmong community nationwide.
Pao Yang, CEO of The Fresno Center, said the victims’ families – as well as those who didn’t even know them – have been seeking mental health and other services since the shooting happened.
“We never had a mass shooting before, especially in this small ethnic community that’s so close-knit. It was really tough,” he said.
In Hmong culture, dealing with loss is a very private thing, according to Pao Yao. So it’s been difficult to have such a public lens on their grieving.
But, he said at least they’ve had such wide-reaching support.
“That’s what really counts to me. It shows unity, it shows the power of a community like ours – a diverse community. It didn’t matter if they were Hmong or not, everybody came together to help,” Pao Yang said.