FRESNO, CA — It was supposed to be a regular Sunday evening for a Hmong family, who gathered relatives and friends to watch football in their backyard.
But two people barged into their home and opened fire using semi-automatic weapons, and gunning down 10.
The Asian victims included three men who died on the spot. The fourth one passed away in the hospital. Six others were injured, and three in serious condition.
Police said it was a targeted attack, but that the shooters also fired randomly upon entering the house.
“Two suspects entered the residence through the backyard side gate, came into the backyard and began randomly firing at people in the backyard,” said Chief Andy Hall, Fresno Police Department.
Southeast Fresno is a relatively safe neighborhood with a vibrant Hispanic and East Asian community so when the mass casualty shooting happened on Sunday night this community was rocked.
But police pointed out that gangs — particularly among Hmongs — are becoming a problem in the area. So they formed an Asian gang task force.
The Hmong community are 50,000 strong in Fresno City — where there are about 7,000 Filipinos as well.
A local Fil-Am reporter said residents are shocked by the shooting.
Valero said the move of the police to form an Asian gang task force is a rarity.
“We don’t really ever hear of a specific racial Task Force really and usually when we think of gangs… think Hispanic, I, I know, in the back of my mind that Southeast Asian gangs exist, but as far as prevalence as far as this degree, I don’t really think of Southeast Asians immediately.”
Meanwhile, friends of the family at the center of the tragedy are appealing for justice.
“They’re not gang members. They’re family.”
Fresno police said they are adamant to prevent any possible retaliation among the Hmong gangs, as the manhunt for the suspects continues.