A man who survived the Cambodian killing fields as a child ended up in critical condition after getting shot by a gunman who tried to rob his store in Philadelphia last month.
Mike Poeng, 50, was shot around 1:30 p.m. on May 5 while washing his car outside KCJ, his beer deli in West Philly.
As seen in a surveillance video, the suspect, black male believed to be in his late 20s, struck Poeng and attempted to push him inside the store.
Poeng fought back with a water hose before the suspect shot him in the hip using an AK-47 rifle. He remains in the hospital in stable but critical condition.
Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker is convinced that the suspect lives near the crime scene.
“We know he still has that gun and could still potentially use it against somebody in that community,” CBS Philly quoted him as saying.
Speaking in interviews, Poeng’s brother, Thai, revealed that it was not the first time his brother encountered a similar rifle.
Apparently, their family survived Cambodia’s killing fields, where more than two million people — who died of famine, disease or murder — were buried during the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge.
According to Thai, the soldiers who forced their family out of their home in April 1975 carried AK-47s. He was 13, and Mike, the youngest of 11 siblings, was seven.
“They stand in front with an AK-47,” Thai told Philly.com. “They stand in front of the doors, waiting for you to hand in your keys, [saying] ‘Go, go, go, go!’ You just grab whatever you can get.”
Unfortunately, their family spent the next four years — the time of the killing fields — in toil. When that dark period ended in 1979, the family found themselves in a border camp, ready to leave everything behind.
There, a famished, 11-year-old Mike had gone missing for a day, returning the next morning with a bag of rice. His family couldn’t be happier.
“We were crying, happy to see him with a bag of rice. He’s a survivor,” Thai said.
The Poengs eventually migrated to the U.S. as refugees. They settled in Connecticut before moving to Philadelphia.
For now, the family is determined to find justice.
“We want to make sure this AK-47 is off the street. We don’t want to see anyone else suffer. We don’t want anyone to have the same experience,” Thai said.
Anyone with information that can lead to the suspect’s arrest may contact Philadelphia’s Southwest Detective Division at (215)-686-3183 or (215)-686-TIPS (8477). Alternatively, tips may be texted to PPDTIP (773847) or [email protected]ice.com.