November 23, 2004


Vang details shooting spree in woods, authorities say (Larry Oakes and Jill Burcum, November 23, 2004, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Chai Vang, the man accused of killing six Wisconsin hunters and wounding two others in the woods of Sawyer County on Sunday, has told investigators he only opened fire after one of the six shot at him.

That account differs sharply from that of one of the wounded.

Vang's story came out in documents released today as part of a probable cause hearing in the case before Circuit Judge Norman Yackel. Yackel ruled there is probable cause to try Vang for the shootings, set Vang's bail at $2.5 million and set his next court appearance for Dec. 20.

According to the documents, this is what Vang told investigators:

He was lost in the woods and climbed into an unoccupied deer stand. After about 15 minutes, another hunter came upon the scene, told Vang he was on private property and told him to leave. The man summoned his friends via radio. Others showed up, surrounded Vang and started using racial epithets.
Map of shootings

Vang said only one of the people confronting him was armed. Vang said that as he turned to leave, he saw the man with the gun point it at him. Then, Vang said the man fired at him from about 100 feet, with the bullet hitting the ground about 30 feet behind.

Collision of cultures: Hmong and white hunters have had disputes in the woods. (TODD NELSON and ALEX FRIEDRICH, 11/22/04, St. Paul Pioneer Press)
Hunting is a tradition many Hmong have continued to pursue since resettling here from Laos, though not always smoothly.

Some Hmong hunters in the Twin Cities say they have been targets of harassment and intimidation. Some of their white counterparts complain that the former refugees, used to unregulated hunting in their homeland, sometimes fail to comply with modern hunting regulations and wildlife management practices.

"A lot of these hunters are people who have a strong tradition in hunting," said Hmong activist Michael Yang of St. Paul, who joined friends looking for deer on his first hunting trip a few weeks ago. "That was one of the bases of survival back in the old days. You go out there in your farm fields and hunt what you need." [...]

Lee Pao Xiong, a Hmong activist from St. Paul, said he stopped hunting on public lands in Minnesota after an incident several years ago in which he and two friends were hunting for squirrels. Two carloads of white hunters suddenly pulled in to the spot where the three were camping and started making harassing comments. Several other Hmong hunters overheard the commotion, and the other hunters left when they realized they were outnumbered.

Michael Yang said he hears Hmong hunters talking of discrimination and taunts from other hunters. Hmong hunters have even been forced to take off their clothes at gunpoint, he said.

"Definitely, there's a lot of friction," Michael Yang said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 23, 2004 3:55 PM
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