'This is a critical time for our community': Hmong leaders mourn shooting victims, seek answers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The shootings in east central Fresno occurred as families enjoyed an American pastime -- watching football.

"It hits right at home because in the Hmong community, you know everyone," said Clovis city councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua. "You're going to be related to one of the guys who got shot or one of the guys that passed away."

Local Hmong leaders like Mouanaoutoua and former Fresno city councilmember Blong Xiong urge families to cooperate with officers so the suspects can be brought to justice.

"You're going to need a lot of southeast Asian responders to be able to calm their concerns. There's safety issues that families are concerned, what may happen or may not," Xiong said.

The massive Hmong New Year celebration begins next month. It lasts several days and draws visitors from around the U.S.

"This is a critical time for our community where there's going to be a lot of gatherings," Xiong said. "We need some assurance that our police is working extremely hard, and our community is engaged."

Xiong says everyone killed or wounded in the shooting was basically extended family.

The Hmong community will now mourn the losses collectively.

"The one thing beautiful about our community is we do step up when there is a death in any of families," Mouanoutoua said.

Xiong says it can be difficult to explain the violence to community elders because a long time ago, they fled the war-torn country of Laos in search of a better life in the U.S.
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