Still no updates in investigation into Calif. shooting that left 4 dead

Investigators have declined to answer questions about suspects or a motive in the Nov. 17 shooting

Thaddeus Miller
Fresno Bee

FRESNO, Calif. — Nineteen days after a shooting at a Fresno gathering left four men dead and injured many others, a number of questions remain about the killers and what happened that night.

Fresno police have not released a description of the suspects from the Nov. 17 mass shooting at a football watch party in the backyard of a home on Lamona Avenue, near Peach and McKinley avenues. A total of 10 people were shot.

There have been no arrests related to the violence in the largely Hmong neighborhood, according to police.

Police Chief Andy Hall remained tight-lipped Thursday about details surrounding the case. He declined four requests this week by phone and email to speak with The Bee. He issued a statement but declined to answer specific questions.

“My department is well aware of the magnitude of this case and the toll it has had on the victims, their families, and to our community. I can assure you that all of the resources dedicated to identifying, arresting and bringing these murderers to justice are working diligently to solve this case,” the statement says. “To allow for any premature information to be revealed would only serve to jeopardize our investigation and be a grave injustice to the families of those murdered and injured in this tragic shooting.”

Hall declined to say if police have a description of the shooters, nor if officers know how the shooters fled. In a news conference last month, Hall said they left on foot or in a car, but did not provide more clarity this week.

Police have said they believe there were at least two shooters with automatic handguns, but that party-goers had a hard time describing them on the dark night.

People across the community, and not only those of Hmong descent, trust Fresno’s police force but are still living in fear, according to Bobby Bliatout, a health care provider who is running for Congress.

Members of the community are concerned about a lack of new information, he said.

“The quietness is scary. A lot of folks don’t know what to do. We’re scared it’s going to hurt the (Hmong) New Year,” Bliatout said, referencing the weeklong gatherings in Fresno that start Dec. 26. “(Police) are working on it. That’s all we can ask for. We’re doing our best to not impede.”

The Nov. 17 gathering where the shooting happened was a typical one, according to members of the Hmong community. Large and small family get-togethers grow more frequent as the calendar heads toward Hmong New Year in December, according to members of the community.

The violent attack has been described as a “mass shooting,” but the facts released by police have not matched what’s become all too typical in mass shootings in the country.

The more typical mass violence involves a man, often carrying a high-powered rifle or assault weapon, shooting people on the street or a school campus in what appears to be a random way until he’s killed by officers or surrenders to police. Shootings like that have been seen in Las VegasEl Paso and Los Angeles, to name a few.

Hall did not answer a question whether the November shooting at the party was a calculated act with a specific target in mind. Officers have not released who they believe was the target nor if they’ve determined a target.

Hall, also, did not respond to a question about whether going more than two weeks without an arrest is concerning.

Police have not provided any new information related to the case since holding the news conference the day after the shooting. That day, Hall announced a task force targeting Asian gangs despite saying police had no reason to believe the violence was gang-related.

That gang designation riled some members of the Hmong community. Hall has since defended the gang terminology.

While the community waits for the police to bring the shooters to justice, Bliatout said, they are trying to reach a feeling of safety and healing. They’ve been in discussions about gun violence prevention – a conversation people across the country could benefit from, he said..

“We’re doing our best to feel positive,” he said. “What we’re worried about now is our safety.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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