A Hmong man from Minnesota fatally shot his wife before killing himself in their home with their children present.
St. Paul police responded to a home along the 2000 block of California Avenue East in the city’s Greater East Side at about 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday after one of the couple’s children called 911.
Officers found 33-year-old Yia Xiong and his 30-year-old wife Ka Lor with gunshot wounds. The couple was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the preliminary investigation of the incident, Xiong allegedly shot Lor before shooting himself. Authorities recovered a weapon from the scene and are currently processing evidence.
Police said the couple’s five children, ages 2 to 9, were at home at the time of the incident. The children reportedly ran to a neighbor’s house after the shooting. The oldest child, a 9-year-old boy, called the police.
“He did a really mature thing for his age. It’s just really incredible what he did. He told his siblings to come out,” the neighbor told 5 Eyewitness News. “It’s sad just to see the kids, losing their parents. I can’t really imagine it. Just seeing them yesterday, reality hasn’t hit them yet.”
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The children “are currently safe with family,” according to police. The couple had reportedly been together for around 10 years. The neighbor said the Hmong family moved into the St. Paul home about one to two years ago. In another murder-suicide case last month, Molly Cheng, a 23-year-old Hmong mother, drowned her three children and herself in Vadnais Lake the same day her husband Yee Lee died by suicide in their Maplewood home on July 1. Pheng Thao, the executive director of Transforming Generations, an organization dedicated to ending gender-based violence in the Hmong community, told KARE 11 that many of the factors contributing to the violence are cultural.
“It really comes from a place of patriarchy. It really comes from a place of privilege that men have in the community — that those are the root causes of it,” Thao said. “No culture actually condones violence and supports the violence that’s actually happening, but it is patriarchal culture that actually supports the violence and supports saying that men can do this.”
“We’ll have one murder-suicide and then a couple months later, we’ll have some murder-suicide that was very close to that one as well. If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to kill you the same way that that other man had just killed his wife,” Thao added. “When we talk about the need, it’s really around both prevention services and intervention services. When we think about prevention, we’re needing to think about how to teach men how to be empathetic.”
The incident is still under investigation.
Xiong’s family set up a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses and the children’s back-to-school needs.
The St. Paul Police Department is urging individuals experiencing domestic violence to seek help from organizations such as the Saint Paul Intervention Project at 651-645-2824.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For a list of international suicide hotlines, click here.
Featured Image via Hmong 18 Council