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‘The Nicest Person That I Have Known’ – Shooting Victim’s Family Asserts No Gang Ties

Kerry Klein
Valley Public Radio
The mother of 23-year-old Xy Lee, killed in Sunday's mass shooting in Southeast Fresno, holds a photo of her family alongside her husband, left, and Pao Yang, Director of the Fresno Center.

One of the men killed in Sunday’s mass shooting in Southeast Fresno was a young musician named Xy Lee, who had tens of thousands of Youtube followers. Despite implications from the Fresno Police Department that the shooting could have been gang-related, Lee’s family asserts he was no gang member.

In his music videos, 23-year-old Xy Lee is clean-shaven, baby-faced, and always dressed sharply in a tie or suspenders. Behind a keyboard or holding a guitar, he mostly sings love songs, often with other singers or traditional Hmong dancers.

Speaking at a media event on Wednesday, Lee’s older brother Kou Lee described Xy as a young man who’d been interested in music from childhood and had fans of all ages who have emerged to send condolences to his family. “His fans from across the world, sending letters, thousands and thousands of letters to them, of love, an outpour of love,” he said through an interpreter.

Credit Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio
Valley Public Radio
"He's a person that everyone wants to be friends with," said Kou Lee, left, of his younger brother Xy Lee.

Although Fresno Chief of Police Andy Hall was careful to stop short of calling Sunday’s shooting a gang crime, he did announce the formation of a new gang task force that will be investigating “Asian gangs.”

When asked whether his little brother could have been in a gang, Kou Lee tearfully switched to English and said no. “My brother is the nicest person that I have known,” he said. “He’s a person that everyone wants to be friends with.”

At the same media event, three Fresno City Councilmembers officially launched a fundraising campaign to raise $500,000 for the Lees and the families of the other victims.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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