Tuesday, November 23, 2004

More details emerge about the shooting

Chai Vang is now telling his side of the story about what happened when a group of hunters approached him about trespassing on their land and using their tree stand. I was hoping it wasn't going to be something like this.

Vang told investigators the hunters surrounded him, and some started calling him racial slurs. The statement quotes him as saying he started walking away but looked back. Vang said he saw the first hunter point his rifle at him and then fire a shot that hit the ground 30 to 40 feet behind him.

Vang told investigators that's when he started firing at the group.

Okay, if someone spoke to me in threatening language and then fired a gun toward me, I'd probably run like hell. Vang was in the army, and I suspect that "fire back" instinct may have kicked in.

But that still doesn't explain why he shot and killed six people, picking some of them off as they arrived on the scene. We're told only one of the hunters was armed.

I suspect the hunting party's story will be slightly different.

UPDATE: WCCO TV has copies of Vang's statement on their website. The statement is in two parts. Here, and here. A "must read" if you want Vang's statement unfiltered. More later.

UPDATE II: Here are a few segments of the report from the investigator (found at the links in the previous paragraph). And I'll just note that it's pretty explicit, though not particularly gruesome.

Reports indicated that the Asian male wandered onto property owned by Terry Willers and Robert Crotteau. The Asian male was located sitting in a tree stand on the private property. The Asian male was confronted by Terry Willers and told by Willers to leave the property. Willers used a Walkie Talkie to advise the rest of the hunting party that were located at the cabin that Willers told the subject to leave and Willers was going to wait and make sure the subject left.

Here's Hesebeck's account which matches most of the news reports so far, but goes into a bit more detail:

Lauren Hesebeck was able to provide the following information. At this point Robert Crotteau, Joe Crotteau, Lauren Hesebeck, Dennis Drew, and Mark Roidt left the cabin and went to Willers location. During another verbal exchange with the Asian male one of the members of the property owner's party wrote the back tag number of the Asian male subject in the dirt on a "mule" which is a 2 side-by-side seat ATV. The back tag number that was written down was XXXXXXX. The Asian male was also advised that law enforcement waas going to be called.

. . .

Vang started to walk away and got approximately 40 yards away. Then Vang appeared to remove the scope from his rifle and turned around and started shooting. Vang shot several times and hit Willers. Prior to being shot, Willers returned fire but did not hit Vang. Vang shot several more shots and struck Dennis Drew and Mark Roidt. Lauren Hesebeck attempted to hide behind the "mule" but Vang moved around the "mule" and shot Lauren Hesebeck in the shoulder. Robert and Joe Crotteau ran away from the scene. Vang then pursued Robert and Joe. Both Robert and Joe were located away from the initial scene and had been shot to death.

While Vang was pursuing Robert and Joe, Lauren Hesebeck was able to call on the Walkie Talkie to the cabin and advised that he had been shot and needed help. Help arrived and removed Terry Willers from the scene. A short time later Lauren heard another ATV approaching and then heard more gun shot. Lauren advised that Vang then appeared again where the shooting originally started. Lauren Hesebeck heard Vang say something like "One of you f****** are still alive." Lauren Hesebeck indicated that he returned fire at that time but is unsure how many times.

Vang's account begins by describing how he got lost and found the deer stand on the private property, so he climbed up onto it. About 15 minutes later, Willers approached and told him that he was on private property. Vang climbed down and started walking away only to find himself confronted by the group. Vang's account adds the detail of the words that were exchanged.

Vang stated that this man stated "You just trespassed through 400 acres of private land. Vang stated that the others in the group surrounded Vang. Vang stated that the man Vang thought to be the owner then started calling Vang names like "gook, chink, f****** Asian." Vang stated that at this point the only one Vang saw with a gun was the first subject that kicked Vang out of the stand.

Vang stated that Vang was told to get off the f****** property and never come back. Vang stated that at one point they wrote down his license number and stated that they were going to call the law enforcement. Vang stated that some of the others in the group started calling Vang names (gook, chink) and were also swearing at Vang. Vang stated that Vang started walking away and got approximately 20 yards away and turned around and observed the man that had the rifle walking towards the rest of the group. Vang also observed the man take the rifle off his shoulder and took the rifle into his hands. Vang stated that Vang was approximated 100 feet away and looked back again. Vang stated that Vang observed the subject with the rifle point the rifle at Vang. Vang stated that Vang immediately dropped to a crouch position and the subject shot at Vang and the bullet hit the ground 30 to 40 feet behind Vang.

Vang stated that Vang removed the scope from his rifle. Vang stated that Vang shot 2 times at the man with the rifle and the man dropped to the ground. Vang saw all the others run toward the ATV's and Vang continued to shoot. Vang stated that 2 or 3 more men fell to the ground. Vang stated that a couple of the men started to run. Vang stated that Vang chased after one of the men that ran towards the cabin. Vang stated that the man was yelling "Help me, help me." Vang stated that Vang shot at the man several times while chasing him. Vang stated that he got to about 15 to 20 feet of the man who was still running away and Vang shot him in the back. Vang stated that the man dropped to the ground. Vang stated that the man did not have a gun. Vang stated that Vang walked up to the man and heard the man groan and then Vang walked away. . . .

Vang stated that at this point Vang heard one of the other men call on the Walkie Talkie and state "We've been shot and need help." Vang stated that Vang observed 3 other subjects coming on an ATV. Vang stated that Vang then turned his reversible coat from orange to camo. Vang stated that he also reloaded his magazine with 5 or 6 bullets. Vang stated that Vang did not shoot at these men because they had guns with them. Vang stated that the men were in by the other injured men for less than a minute and then left. Vang did not know if the men took any of the wounded out with them.

Vang stated that Vang then observed another ATV coming with 2 more people on it. Vang stated that the driver of this ATV had a gun on his shoulder. Vang stated that Vang began to run and Vang stated that they saw Vang running and were going too fast to stop and drove past Vang. Vang stated that they stopped approximately 10 to 15 feet past Vang at a 45 degree angle. Vang stated that the man removed the gun from his shoulder with one hand while the other hand was on the handle bars of the ATV. Vang stated that Vang shot 3 or 4 times and both people fell off the ATV and onto the ground.

Vang stated that Vang then started to run back towards where the original shooting started. Vang stated that Vang looked up the trail and saw that one of the men were standing. Vang stated that Vang yelled "You're not dead yet?" Vang stated that Vang shot one more time in the direction of this man but doesn't know if he hit the man or not. Vang stated that he continued to run away and did not return.

. . .

At the scene there was only 1 rifle located.

There are two major differences in the accounts. In Vang's account he was insulted and shot at before he returned fire. In Hesebeck's account (on which, until today, most news accounts seemed to be based) there is no apparent reason that Vang began firing on the group.

But more telling, perhaps, are the places where the two accounts match. In both accounts Vang chases down and shoots one or more of the hunting party as they attempt to flee the scene. In both accounts he calls out a sort of a challenge statement. ("One of you f****** is still alive?" or "You're not dead yet?")

This is all kinds of disturbing.

UPDATE III: One more thing. Because I've been blogging about this incident the last two days, Google searches on the subject keep pointing to my blog. It's been interesting to see what search terms people are using to track down this story. But one search term in particular really bothered me. Someone was searching with the phrase "redneck robert crotteau" -- Robert Crotteau being one of the murder victims. (My blog came up because an earlier post having nothing to do with this incident had the word "redneck" in it). And there we have one small example of how hunters have been depicted by news of this event.

This, too, is disturbing.

UPDATE IV: It appears that this particular blog entry is getting a lot of traffic. Thanks for stopping by. I've been blogging about this because the incident occured near my home town, and I know the area quite well.

I just wanted to let you know that this isn't my only entry on the subject. If you go out to the main page of my blog and start scrolling down, you should find quite a few. But there are a few recent entries here and here with newer information. I'll likely keep blogging about this until the case is resolved.


At 11:41 AM, Blogger me said...

I've linked to your story on my blog...my take on it is there and here:

What we have here, essentially, is a case of really, really, really bad decisions being made on both sides. I mean piss-poor. Vang should not have been hunting on someone else's land; the owners should not have insulted him and certainly shouldn't have shot as he was walking away (if that's what really happened); and while Vang may have been justified in defending himself initially, stalking and killing the people trying to get away was way over the top. I don't know if Wisconsin has a death penalty, and I don't know that this case calls for it anyway. That being said, he's certainly in for a stiff punishment.

I'm still upset about the Violence Policy Center's press release Monday. If Vang has some sort of military training, he still could have done a lot of damage using any sort of firearm as he did with his SKS. The weapon is not the issue here, nor is firearm ownership. Like I said, BAD DECISIONS WERE MADE. There's no excuse for using the tragic results for political ends. I hope this doesn't turn into some sort of anti-hunting anti-gun media orgy. I just want to find out what happened and deal with the people involved, not the guns.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Drew said...

There is no death penalty in Wisconsin, and some things about Vang's statement don't quite add up. Hopefully further investigation will get to the truth of the incident. Though he was a medical records clerk in the army, his military record indicates "sharpshooter" status . . . at least I think that's how I read it.

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Pointblank said...

Hi, I am a former resident of St.Paul who now lives near Exeland, WI which gives me the oportunity to explaine both worlds. First of all I grew up around the hmong community and I trully belive they are some of the best people you will ever meet I never once had ben called a racial name or even called white by one. I also grew up in the same neighborhood that Vang Lives in and that is one thing people up here don't understand you gotta do what you gotta do to survive and no matter where you are your always watching your back and are ready to defend your self. Now in Wisconsin it's safe clean and filled with nice people. But they are racists plain and simple, now I don't mean that they are all Evil Reneck KKK NeoNazis no the majority of them are great people but they do not understand other races and they have ben taught by their family and freind and even the local media that other races are inferiour and thats not their fault. But as much as people up here deny that this incedent had to do with race they can't because it had every thing to do with race especally to the hunters. If Chai Vangs would of ben a white guy named Ben johnson the hunters probly would have invited him to have a beer.But no they antaganized him and talked a bunch of shit which is what they do up here, they talk like there all that but when it comes to it they are pussies. Chia vang didn't know that just like i didn't know that tell I found out. And for all of you that aren't from big cities(a little news to yahall from the U.P. a city of 20,000 isn't a big city that's barley the size of a suberban neighborhood of the Twincities)We don't take shit and we will stand up for our selves. Now after chai vang gets down from the tree stand he apoligizes for being on their land and starts to walk away but then the reinforcements willers called arives and now that they got numbers on there side they do what they do THEY TALK SHIT Chia Vang nkew that he was out numbered and probly didn't even reply when they started being hicks(by hicks i mean rednecks and yes theses hunters where rednecks) they shouted racist shit and cussed. And Chai Vang probly woulda let that slide but then willers basicly killed every one because he raised his gun and aparently shot a warning shot wheter he shot or not isn't important he raised the gun at Vang which is what set him off when you raise a gun at a city person much less an ex army sharp shooter you better shoot because first thing that went through chia vangs mind was "shit" and he turned and fired. Yes he was wrong for chaing down and killing the ones fleeing but I can see how he would of thought they where running for guns or even if they could of had handguns(thats what I would've thought) and he didn't finish of the guy moning on the ground or din't make sure hesebeck was dead. But he saw the guys on the four wheeler coiming and he saw him raise the gun and he acted, the hunters who came with the guns had no intention to let the law take care of things no they came to kill Vang. that's at least 3 justifiable defences.Vangs first version of the story was a lie, a half assed one but think about it your a hmong person in the middle of one of the most racist states in the U.S. and you just killed 5 white guys are you really gonna tell a bunch of country cops that? his second story in the most reliable in his story he admits where he went wrong as in hesebecks story he leaves or alot of stuff.Hesebeck yes I know him not well but well enough to know that he is the kind of jackass to shout racist shit and start stuff and but I don't know willers but im sure he did the same. and hesebeck has two differnt accounts of what what Vang did before he shot at them hesebecks first story states that Vang turned around and pointed his rifle at them and then willers pointed his shotgun or rifle at Vang and told him to drop his gun and leave then vang fired, the second account says that willers took the gun off his shoulder and held it up but not pointing it at vang and then vang randomly turned around and started spraying .Now as for the general media First of all they said that the SKS is not a common hunting rifle and lacks power, that's fucking retarted! any one who knows shit about guns knows that a 7.62mm has the same stopping power as a 30-30(the most common hunting caliber) 25+ yards and thats total bullshit that people don't use them. And also I herd some bullshit about him being connected to another shooting a few years early their are all lies. And correct me if i am wrong but there where no records that I have seen stating wheter or not the white hunters where intoxicated, I find it hard to belive that a bunch or wisconsites on vacation in the north woods where not drinking! The real victims of this are the families of the hunters and Vang it doesn't matter to them who shot first it doesn't make a differnce to them they are at a loss either way.The problem with Wisconsin isn't Meth or Stupdity it is racisum and the simple fact that reguardless of wheter vang acted apropriatly or even if the stories are correct that this whole event could have ben avoided if the hunters were not racists...........

Please feel free to correct me on things I may have Mistated or if i am missing some key facts. ALthough I belive Vang is innocent I am still at a delema please enlighten me if you know something I don't. Thank you for reading and respecting my opinion sorry if I offened you in any way and godbless.


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