Burmese-American Refugee Murdered In Front of His Kids During Robbery in Iowa

Stephen Kim, a Burmese-American immigrant killed in front of his three children, was able to spend his last day with them in a school activity.

The 41-year-old resident of Des Moines, Iowa, was shot to death during an attempted robbery last week. He was waiting in his car for his wife while his three children sat at the back.

Sgt. Paul Parizek, spokesman for the Des Moines Police, said four people were involved, one of which pulled the trigger. Kim’s murder is the 11th homicide in the Iowa capital so far this year –last year, the city recorded 13 homicides.

Parizek explained (via The Des Moines Register):

“As he did what any parent would do, instinctually, and try to protect his children, they essentially executed him in front of his kids. These are innocent people who have done absolutely nothing wrong, and this type of terror is brought onto their family.”

Kim came to America with his wife Esther as refugees in December 2008.

Apparently, the grim incident occurred just hours after Holy Family Catholic School celebrated its “Culture Day,” where Kim’s two older children, first- and second-graders, attend school.

Kim attended the event with his kids, including his youngest who is about to start preschool in the fall. Martin Flaherty, school principal, described him as “kind” and “hard-working.”

“He was just so earnest, and he wanted to do what was best for his kids and his family. He worked so doggone hard.”

Flaherty added, “He was absolutely determined to make sure his children had a good education. He was a committed father.”

Kim’s death was easily mourned by loved ones, including the Burmese refugee community. Henny Ohr, executive director of the Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center (EMBARC), said:

“I think it’s unfathomable for the refugee community from Burma to come to any understanding of something this senseless.”

Kim and his wife moved to the U.S. to flee from the persecution they experienced due to their faith and Zomi ethnic identity, which happens to be a minority in the Chin State of western Myanmar.

A crowdfunding page has been set up to help with Kim’s funeral costs and his children’s education.

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