The family of five young children whose parents died in an apparent murder-suicide this week in St. Paul is asking for help from the community.
According to a St. Paul police report, Yia Xiong, 33, allegedly shot and killed his wife Ka Lor, 30, before taking his own life on Tuesday evening at a home on the 2000 block of California Avenue East. They are survived by their five children, ranging in age from 2 to 9.
At a news conference at the Hmong 18 Council on Thursday, Xiong’s older brother Chee Nou Xiong said he was shocked by the deaths.
“Just thinking about my sister-in-law, and my brother. It’s, it’s just heartbroken. They won’t be there anymore,” Chee Nou Xiong said.
"My whole body still shakes," he said. "It's just something where it pulls your heart out and a piece of it's not there anymore."
According to Chee Nou Xiong, the children’s father told them to go downstairs on Tuesday night. The oldest, a 9-year-old boy, then heard three gunshots. He went upstairs, saw his parents on the floor and called 911.
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Xiong said the boy then got his four younger sisters out of the home before they could see their parents’ bodies. Xiong called his nephew a “hero little guy.”
Xiong said he didn't know what led to the shooting, saying he wished his brother would have reached out so he could have intervened.
"I think that every moment, I mean what if he could've given me a call?” Chee Nou Xiong said. “That second, I would've been able to just drive over there — 'Hey, let's go out, or talk somewhere, or do something besides being in the house.'"
The family and the Hmong 18 Council are asking for donations for funeral costs and other expenses for the children through a GoFundMe site.
"We just need help," Chee Nou Xiong said. "Especially with five kids that's still so young. They still have a bright future. ... That's a reason I want to reach out to the whole community to help as much as they can, for the five kids."
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential phone & text crisis support. Call or text 988 to get started.