MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – St. Paul police say they know who killed a young man at a popular family festival on Sunday.
Officers say 27-year-old Nougai Xiong of St. Paul killed 19-year-old Jacky Vue. And they say 28-year-old Yang Houa Xiong of La Crosse, Wisconsin helped pull it off.
It happened at the 38th Annual Hmong Freedom Festival at Como Park.
“There were a lot of people family, young people, old people senior citizens just coming together to celebrate the culture and the things that make St. Paul great and then the shots rang out and people ran in all different directions,” Steve Linders with the St. Paul Police Department said.
One of the nearly 40,000 people at the festival was bookstore owner Shoua Xiong. She was one of the vendors.
“They ran to tell my other customers to say there is a shooting over there, that’s all I hear, I don’t really know what is going on,” Xiong said.
She says the festival attracts visitors from around the country and the world and gunshots were very unexpected.
St. Paul police say they hired security and were thorough, wanding people who passed through the gates.
“While we along with security work hard to keep it secure, a space that big, with that many people coming and going, we don’t know how the gun got in right now, we don’t know if it was put there before hand, if someone passed it through during the event,” Linders said.
Officers trying to figure out the details are asking that anyone with video from the time of the shooting to share it in hopes of figuring out how a joyful tradition, is now marked by grief.
“Taking of one life, it wasn’t worth it,” Xiong said.
Police say if you or someone you know does have cell phone video, they are asking them to call the homicide department directly at (651) 266-5650.
The St. Paul Police Department gave us this statement on security:
Overall Safety and Security:
The Saint Paul Police Department works closely with the organizers in the months and weeks prior to the event to make sure we’re doing everything possible to make it as safe as possible. In fact, the commander who oversees our involvement met with organizers on each of the three previous Saturdays to go over plans and make sure all security practices and protocols were in place.
The event organizers have worked hard to make sure it’s a family-friendly event, where all are welcome. Last year, for example, officers responded to only one fight call — which occurred during a soccer match and was broken up quickly.
This year, prior to the shooting, there had been two fights, and both were quickly broken up.
Safety and Security Measures:
The Saint Paul Police Department had 23 off-duty officers working the event. This included two commanders.
The contract requires the event organizers to have on-duty, professional security guards at the gates (with wands) throughout the event. Security is required to be on scene 24-hours-a-day through the event. In addition, volunteers go through bags at each entrance. I’m told volunteers go through extensive training.”