Nov. 19 (UPI) — California police said they have formed a special Asian gangs investigations task force as they hunt for at least two gunmen who killed four people and wounded six others when they opened fired on a party a day earlier.
Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall confirmed in a press conference Monday that police are searching for at least two suspects who opened fire on a family party in Fresno on Sunday around 7:45 p.m.
He said they entered the property by an unlocked gate and shot at the 16 men who were in the backyard watching football, hitting 10 of them before fleeing on foot.
Three of the men were pronounced dead at the scene and a fourth died during surgery, he said.
The Fresno County Coroner’s Office identified the victims as Xy Lee, 23; Phia Vang, 31; Kou Xiong, 38; and Kalaxang Thao, 40.
“What I can tell you is this was not a random act,” Hall said. “It appears that this incident was a targeted act of violence against this residence. We are investigating leads and we do have information that possibly some people at this party were in a disturbance earlier this week.”
Hall said in response they have created an Asian gangs task force to work alongside the Fresno Police Department’s homicide unit to bring the case to a close and to prevent retaliation.
He said there is no indication that anyone at the house was affiliated with a gang, calling them “pillars of our community.”
“But at this time, I would like to let the community know that this house was just a family event and everybody that were at this event were truly victims,” he said. “However, we don’t know everybody that was there and we don’t know what their association is and we’re looking into every angle.”
There is little information known about the shooters other than there were at least two men armed with semi-automatic pistols, Hall said.
The shooting occurred in a quiet, working-class Hispanic and South Asian neighborhood and though they haven’t seen a spike in Asian gang-related crime they are beginning to see violence in the lead up to the Hmong new year, he said.
“We’ve had three incidents in November involving Asian gangs. We’ve had 11 incidents over the year involving Asian gangs and we also have our Hmong new year’s celebration coming up in December and in January, which draws thousands of people not only from within our community but from outside our community, and we want to make sure we are ahead of this before we have this influx of South East Asian members of our community arrive,” Hall said.