Beating Death of Vietnamese Elderly Man Leaves Family Stunned

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 ST. LOUIS—The beating death of Hoang Nguyen, 72, in an alley as he walked home with his wife has left his family and the police searching for answers. National JACL [Japanese American Citizen League] is asking local police to look into whether race was a factor in the man’s death.

Hoang Nguyen died April 16 after being attacked by a group of four people believed to be in their 20s as he and his wife Yen were walking home after doing their grocery shopping at a Vietnamese market.

Yen, 59, was also punched in the face and suffered a fractured eye socket. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she and her husband did not know the attackers.

“He said ‘No, no, no,’” Yen said, showing how one of the men grabbed her husband’s jacket near his neck and pushed him up against a wall. Hoang was punched in the head and fell to the ground. The same man then hit Yen in her right eye. As her husband tried to get up to assist her, a second man kicked Hoang and he fell again, hitting his head. His brain swelled, and he died later that day at a hospital.

Police say the motive for the attack is unclear and the attackers said nothing to their victims. They were not robbed. He had $68 in his pocket; she was wearing a necklace. Police hope a surveillance video leads them to the killers.

One of the attackers, Elex Levell Murphy, has characterized the attack as being part of a “Knock Out” game that involves unprovoked attacks on innocent bystanders.

National JACL, in responding to the incident, has asked local police to look into the possibility that the victims may have been targeted because of their race. 

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