Chinese Media on SF Killings

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SAN FRANCISCO – The brutal killing of five people in a San Francisco home last week has shocked the city, with news emerging that the suspect in the case had been ordered to leave the country in 2006. As questions remain as to the motive behind the killing, Chinese media are taking a closer look at who the victims were.

According to the Sing Tao Daily, coworkers of Huashun Lei often referred to the 65-year-old former math teacher as “Lei Teacher.” It was a term of affection for his fellow cooks and other staff at the popular Chinatown eatery R&G Lounge.

“I usually drive Lei home because we live close to one another,” said one employee identified by his surname Hua. “Lei was a nice guy, he always treated people well. He didn’t have any bad habits like gambling or drinking.”

There has been speculation that the murders were possibly prompted by gambling debts, though police have yet to make an official statement.

Lei was one of five people murdered by 35-year-old Binh Thai Luc of Vietnam. The other four victims were Vincent Lei, 32; Ying Xue Lei, 37; Wan Yi Xu, 62; and Chia Huei Chu, 30. Officials have said it remains unclear whether the five were related. Their bodies were discovered last Friday in a home across from City College of San Francisco.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Luc terrorized employees at gunpoint and stole cash in a Chinese restaurant robbery in the 1990s and was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 1998. He served only eight years of his term and was released by 2006.

Police had initially thought the killings were a murder suicide, with the crime scene so chaotic they had trouble identifying the cause of death.

Another of Lei’s fellow cooks, meanwhile, noted the Lei family never seemed to be under any undue financial strain, pointing out that most of the family were employed and that Lei himself usually put in around 60 hours per week.

“Chinese immigrants often have a hard time making a living in the United States,” he said. “Cooks especially are rarely well connected in society because of the long hours they work. Once they get off, they usually head straight home to relax.”

Mr. Lee, who also worked in the kitchen with Lei, said of his former co-chef, "Lei was a really nice person. I don't see him as someone who would have any conflict with others."