A backyard gathering turned into a “mass casualty” incident when at least one gunman opened fire at a group of people watching a football game in South Fresno, California Sunday night, Fresno Police said.
The four deceased victims, who were all adult men, were shot in a backyard on East Lamona Avenue, near Caesar Avenue, at about 8 p.m. local time on Sunday, November 17, 2019. An additional six people were injured, according to Fresno Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Reid. Children were also at the party, but none were hurt. Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley called the shooting a “mass casualty” incident during a press conference. Ten people were shot and four were dead. Three died on the scene, and one died on the way to the hospital. Six surviving victims are expected to recover, the news station reported. Among those killed was a well-known Hmong singer, Xy Lee. Among the injured was another popular Hmong singer, JN Vang. You can read more about the victims here.
Police said during a press conference at 11 a.m. Monday there were two suspects. They were both armed with semiautomatic pistols and fled on foot.
“This was truly a good group of people that were simply having a party,” said Fresno Police Deputy Chief Andrew Hall.
He said police have several leads to identify the suspects.
“We’re coming for you,” Hall said to the gunman.
The Fresno Bee reported a large police presence was on the scene, which is located near Peach and Olive avenues. Police were unable to immediately obtain a description of the shooter or shooters, or the description of any vehicle involved in the shooting. Officers secured the scene, and began going door to door in the area to gather witness descriptions and seek out surveillance footage. ABC 7 reported roads in the area were blocked while police investigate.
The suspect sneaked into the backyard and began shooting, police said. Several people were found dead on the scene. Others were taken to a local hospital. Several of the surviving victims were in critical condition, and some were in critical but stable condition Sunday night, Dooley said.
The seriously injured victims were rushed to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, according to Fox 26 News. Several of those victims were in critical condition Sunday.
Anyone with information about the shooting can call Fresno PD at 559-621-7000. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information, which can be made anonymously by calling Valley Crime Stoppers at 559-498-STOP.
Here’s what you need to know:
Fresno Police Called Shooting a ‘Mass Casualty’ Incident
Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley called the shooting at a southeast Fresno gathering a “mass casualty.” Police received multiple 911 calls of a gunman opening fire in the 5300 block of East Lamona Avenue at about 6 p.m. Police and EMS arrived to find multiple people dead in the backyard. Four people were killed, and six others were injured and expected to survive. KMPH reported all off the victims were Asian men between 25 and 35 years old.
Dooley’s statement said:
A little bit before 6 o’clock this evening, the Fresno Police Department began receiving multiple 911 calls regarding a shooting that took place… outside of a residence at the 5300 block of East Lamona. As officers and paramedics were en route, we received more and more information on multiple victims including deceased individuals. Officers arrived on scene. What we found were several individuals deceased in a backyard. We do have multiple shooting victims. We’re not releasing the total number yet. They’ve all been transported to CRMC. Some are listed in critical condition. Some are listed in…critical but stable condition. What we do know is that this was a gathering, a family and friend gathering in the backyard. Everyone was watching a football game this evening when unknown suspects approached the residence, snuck into the backyard and opened fire. The suspects then fled. We have no suspect information at this time, no vehicle information, but obviously we’re working on that right now. Officers and detectives – now that we have stabilized the scene – officers and detectives will begin going door to door looking for surveillance cameras and additional witnesses to help us piece together what took place this evening. This is a mass casualty shooting. There’s no doubt about it. We are looking, probably, at this point, at nine individuals who were shot.
Fresno Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Reid held a press conference later in the evening, saying their hearts go out to the victims.
“This was senseless violence,” Reid said during a press conference. “We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators are and bring them to justice. But right now, what we want is our thoughts and prayers going out for the family and the survivors of this senseless shooting.”
He said there was no indication that the shooter or shooters knew the victims. Police were not immediately sure whether there was one shooter or multiple shooters. Law enforcement were interviewing the people who remained on the scene. About 25 to 30 other people were at the party, he said.
“We have locked down the crime scene. Obviously, this is a fluid situation,” he said. “We have multiple investigators here right now, so we’re going to be collecting the evidence. Thank God that no kids were hurt because there were several kids and females that were in attendance at this party. So right now, all 10 of the victims, deceased or not, were all injured males in that 25 to 35 range.”
Reid’s full statement said:
Right before 8 o’clock tonight we started receiving 911 calls about shootings that occurred on East Lamona, specifically the 5300 block of East Lamona. As officers arrived, we began to get several calls about shooting victims also in the area. Officers came in and they saw three people that were down immediately. They were all Asian males between 25 and 30, and CPR was started immediately. There was about 35 people that it looks like that were inside the house and inside the backyard. They were at a football party, so this was a family gathering. The initial information is that somebody came up on foot possibly, at least one suspect, and began firing. They fired into the backyard where most of the people were in this party, striking 10 people in the course of that gunshot. Preliminarily, three people died on scene, all Asian males between the ages of 25 and 30. One was critical and was transported to CRMC where he succumbed to his injuries. We have five additional people at CRMC with non-life threatening gunshot wounds, and one Asian male that came up later on, during the investigation, and said that he had a graze wound. He was taken to St. Agnes Medical Center where he is receiving treatment right now. First off, our heart goes out to the families that were the victims of the thing. This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators are and bring them to justice. But right now, what we want is our thoughts and prayers going out for the victims and the survivors of this senseless shooting right now.
Special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field office in San Francisco were responding to the shooting, the federal agency announced in a tweet. The Fresno Bee reported the backyard shooting was the second fatal shooting in Fresno Sunday.
“It was at least the second fatal gun attack Sunday in southeast Fresno,” the Fresno Bee reported. “A man in his 20s was shot to death early Sunday at a home in 3900 Block of East Dwight Way. Police have not said whether the incidents could be connected.”
A Neighbor Told Reporters he Feels Unsafe Living in the Area After Multiple Shootings
A man who lives nearby told the Fresno Bee he wants to move after multiple shootings in the southeastern Fresno neighborhood.
“It makes me feel unsafe to be outside when the sun’s down,” said Choua Vang.
Just last week, someone shot at his neighbor’s house, he told the newspaper. He enjoys working on his car in his driveway, but he has become nervous about being outside of his house at night. He feels suspicious of joggers in the neighborhood and worries about his family members. Some of them work graveyard shifts and come home late at night.
“We’re thinking about moving out of the neighborhood,” he said. “We don’t know how many more shootings there will be.”
Other neighbors told local news reporters they heard rapid-fire gunshots Sunday night.
Southeast Asian Gang Task Force Initiated to Conduct Investigation & Prevent Retaliation
A southeast Asian gang task force was deployed to assist in the investigation, prevent retaliation, provide translations and speak with people in the neighborhood, which has a large Hmong population, Fresno Police said during a press conference at 11 a.m. Monday. Law enforcement determined that several people who were at the gathering were involved in a disturbance earlier in the week, and may have been targeted, but police could not immediately confirm that the shooting was in retaliation of the disturbance or that it was related to gang violence.
“There’s no indication that there is. It’s just one of the leads that we’re following up on,” said Fresno Deputy Police Chief Andrew Hall.
“What I can tell you us this was not a random act. It appears that this act was a targeted act of violence against this residence,” he said.
He said 16 people were in the backyard of the residence. Ten of those people were shot. Because it was dark, none of the witnesses was able to give a description of the suspects.
“The witnesses only described seeing flashes of light,” Hall said.
He described the victims as “pillars of the community” and hardworking people. He said that all of the victims were very cooperative. None of those who were hit appeared to be specifically targeted, Hall said.
“This party was described as very peaceful, very quiet, and was not described as being out of control in any way,” he said. “It was just a family event.”
He described the neighborhood as a quiet, working middle-class neighborhood.
Two victims were still recovering at the hospital Monday.