Fresno police are on the hunt for at least two gunmen who opened fire during a backyard family gathering Sunday night, killing four people and wounding six.
During a party in the 5000 block of East Lamona Avenue, two gunmen walked through an unlocked side gate at the southeast Fresno home at 7:48 p.m. and shot into a crowd of more than a dozen men, Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall said during a news conference Monday.
The partygoers, who were gathered in the backyard to watch a football game, said it was too dark to see the shooters’ faces.
Three men died at the scene, and one died at a hospital. Six others were injured, and two remained hospitalized Monday in stable condition, authorities said. Women and children who were inside the house were not injured during the shooting.
Officials identified the victims who died as Xy Lee, 23; Phia Vang, 31; Kalaxang Thao, 40; and Kou Xiong, 38. Xiong lived at the house where the shooting took place. All four men were Fresno residents.
Two of the men who were shot, including Lee, were well-known singers in the Southeast Asian Hmong community, according to Pao Yang, head of the Fresno Center, a nonprofit agency focused on the mental health, education, employment services and civic engagement of Hmong residents.
“It’s a dark day in our community, not only in our Hmong community but in our Fresno community,” Yang said during Monday’s news conference. “They come out and perform to our mental health clients every year, especially gearing up for the Hmong New Year. These are people that are near and dear to us.”
Hall said the Fresno home where the shooting occurred was targeted and the Police Department is creating an Asian gang task force to investigate the attack.
Although there is no indication the residents are involved in gangs, Hall said there has been an uptick in violence by Asian gangs and officials worry it may increase as the Hmong New Year celebrations bring thousands of Southeast Asians to the area in late December.
Hall said police also are investigating whether a disturbance last week involving some of the men who were shot is connected to Sunday’s attack. The Police Department is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information leading to an arrest in the case.
Officials from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Department of Homeland Security are assisting the Fresno Police Department in the investigation.
The shooting was the second in Fresno over the weekend and comes days after two other high-profile shootings in California. In another part of the city, a man in his 20s was fatally shot inside a home. Police have not said whether that shooting is related to Sunday’s attack at the party.
Last week, authorities said a student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita shot five classmates and then himself on his 16th birthday. Two teenagers died in the shooting and three were wounded. The suspect, Nathaniel Berhow, died at the hospital.
On Saturday, police in San Diego said a husband fatally shot his wife and three of their sons before killing himself. A fourth son is on life support.