FRESNO (CBS SF) — Four members of the notorious Mongolian Boys Society Gang have been charged with special circumstances murder in a Fresno mass shooting that left four dead and 12 others injured, prosecutors said.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp has charged 27-year-old Ger Lee, 27-year-old Anthony Montes, 26-year-old Porge Kue and 25-year-old Billy Xiong with four counts of murder with 2 counts of special circumstances, 14 counts of attempted murder and conspiracy. The four also face federal charges.
The charges filed Thursday also allege “the four named defendants committed the crimes for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang.”
The four were scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.
If convicted, the defendants face a sentence of either death or life in prison without parole. Prosecutors were still determining if they will pursue death sentences.
Federal prosecutors also have charged 30-year-old Pao Vang, 19-year-old Jhovanny Delgado and 25-year-old Johnny Xiong with conspiring to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
According to the federal complaint, Nov. 17, 2019, members and associates of the Mongolian Boys Society met to plan the shooting. At the meeting, the defendants and others selected a target residence, chose shooters, provided them with guns, and drove to the target location.
Vang, Delgado, and Xiong attended the meeting outlining the planned retaliation and understood that the objective was to murder individuals at the targeted residence. They were designated as lookouts and positioned themselves on street corners near the target residence to report the presence of law enforcement.
All of the victims were of Hmong descent and the shooting rattled the central California city, home to the second-largest Hmong community in the U.S.
The victims include Xy Lee, 23, a popular singer in the community, and Kalaxang Thao, 40, who is survived by two daughters and a pregnant wife, according to a GoFundMe site.
The other victims are Phia Vang, 31, who supported his parents and younger siblings with earnings from his job delivering clinical lab results.
The shooting occurred at the home of the fourth victim, Kou Xiong, 38, a gregarious sushi chef who loved hosting parties. Xiong is survived by his wife and young daughter.
Both Vang and Xiong were children when they moved to the United States from Thailand as part of refugee re-location efforts. Hmong fought on the side of the United States in the Vietnam War and after the war, the U.S. moved them to places in Minnesota, California and Wisconsin.
In California, Hmong settled in Fresno and the Central Valley, where sponsors hoped they could find work given their agricultural background.