Family of shooting victim calls for hate crime investigation
Sia Marie Xiong was identified Sunday as the victim of a fatal shooting in Compton, and the family is calling for the 28-year-old’s death to be investigated as a possible hate crime amid a recent rise in violence against Asian Americans.
A spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department said Xiong’s death is not believed to be a hate crime, although a suspect or motive have not yet been identified. She said the investigation’s focus could change if additional information surfaces.
Xiong was killed just before 6 a.m. Saturday on the 1600 block of East Kay Street, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Her family held a press conference Sunday evening to ask sheriff’s officials to consider all possible motives, including racial prejudice.
Xiong, who had a 3-year-old son, was of Cambodian, Black and Native American descent, said the family’s lawyer, Toni Jaramilla.
“The backdrop is of course the rise in Asian hate crimes,” Jaramilla said in an interview. Six women of Asian descent were among eight victims fatally shot by a white man at three Atlanta-area spas March 16 . The crime followed a rise in anti-Asian hate attacks in California and nationally.
“We’re looking to see if the Sheriff’s Department can look at it with that lens,” Jaramilla said.
Xiong’s family members said they struggled to make sense of the killing. Xiong grew up in San Diego and lived in Fontana, so it was unclear why she was in Compton on Saturday, said Akeisa Lowe, her aunt.
Lowe, who spoke to The Times while pacing the street where her niece was shot, said Xiong was a stellar student in high school and gained a scholarship to San Diego State University.
She did not complete her degree and had recently been studying to be an aesthetician, said Lowe, a San Diego resident who helped raise Xiong.
“She was a sweet kid,” Lowe said. “I can’t even imagine who would hate her this much.”
Prominent South L.A. activist Najee Ali called for the Sheriff’s Department to focus on the possibility of a racial motive in the killing.
“We want a thorough investigation,” Ali said. “We’ve had several Asian women be murdered, not just nationwide, but now we have one locally.”
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