Laile Vang posted YouTube videos to her account in 2014.
On Sunday, a Hmong American woman was shot dead and her parents severely injured by a gunman who may have been inspired by a Wisconsin kidnapping case, reports the Star Tribune.
“Laile had a soft heart and a beautiful soul,” said her cousin Leni Sujin, according to the Wasau Daily Herald. “She never spoke poorly of anyone and she always looked on the brighter side of things. She had a bright aura around her and always yearned to travel and experience new cultures. Laile was a true blessing to anyone around her.”
According to authorities, Ritchie German Jr., 33, fatally his mother, brother, and 8-year-old nephew at his family’s home and cleaned up the crime scene before driving over to the Vangs’ Wisconsin home a day later.
He arrived at the Vang residence Sunday night when he fatally shot Laile Vang, 24, and injured both Teng Vang, 51, and Mai Chang Vang, 39, before shooting himself dead. Lake Hallie Police Chief Cal Smokowicz said authorities found a loaded 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun and a pair of handcuffs in the car German used.
Investigators believe German broke in by firing rounds through a storm door and through the front door. He then shot at Teng Vang and Mai Chang Vang. They were struck in the hand and received amputations for their injuries. Authorities say both are expected to survive.
According to New York Daily News, authorities are unsure of German’s motive. However, they revealed that German had sent sexual text messages to Laile Vang, but she responded that she did not know who he was. In addition, authorities noted the similarities to the Jayme Closs kidnapping case in Wisconsin.
Last October, Jake Thomas Patterson kidnapped 13-year-old Jayme Closs after fatally shooting her parents. She was held captive for 88 days before she managed to escape.
Similarly, German found a victim he didn’t know, forced his way in with a shotgun, and shot the parents. Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk said German may have been planning to abduct Laile Vang.
“Why is he going armed to a residence he’s never been to before? To our knowledge it’s similar to the Closs situation,” said Kowalczyk. “I’m not saying that was the motive, but I’m saying similar circumstances that happened in Barron County happened in Chippewa County.”
Shooting had ceased by the time authorities arrived on scene in response to multiple 911 calls. Two other family members were found hiding in the basement, and two more had crawled out a window to escape.
“The matter is pretty much over as fast as it started,” said Kowalczyk.
“We are looking for an answer. Right now, I gotta be honest with you, I don’t have that answer.”
German had previously been given probation for an arrest due to reckless endangerment when he threatened his two brothers with a shotgun in 2006.
German’s estranged father also told authorities that his son suffered from a bipolar disorder and that he had previously warned German’s mother against giving their son money for a handgun.
Sujin launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for the funeral and hospital expenses.
“She was kind to everyone, always smiling, and never cruel,” the page reads. “Laile was the glue that held her family together. She was the big sister that everyone turned to for advice. She was the daughter that helped her parents with bills and chores. She was the friend that always offered a lending hand and listening ear.”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff or submitting a story.