Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Montagnard community unites after tragedy

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GREENSBORO — Five days after a man was charged with shooting five people — killing three of them — the Montagnard community of which he was a member still wanted clarification on what happened.

Jerry Wolford (News & Record)

Photo Caption: Greensboro police Chief Ken Miller (left), H Nguyen (center) and Lt. Dennis Willoughby talk with the Rev. Y' Hin Nie during a meeting between the police department and members of the Montagnard community Tuesday, when they

About 30 Montagnard Christians — about three-quarters of them men — from local churches gathered Tuesday with Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller and investigators to get answers. At a nearly two-hour meeting, police with the help of interpreters tried to help the group better understand how the case is developing.

“The importance of this meeting is really to share information that we can about this case investigation to a community that I think is reeling from the events and to help them understand the process by which this case will be judged, the things that police do and don’t do,” Miller said.

He told them that the police are there to help them, not hurt them, and that they needed to work together to prevent crimes such as last week’s triple homicide.

Hoanh Rcom, his brother Polly Rcom and friends Fnu Angu and Ayun Yy are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon in Thursday’s shooting deaths of 6-year-old Jason Rcom , 43-year-old Josh Prago and 23-year-old H’ding Nie at 1501 Brandonshire Court, Apt. 303 .

Hli Nie, the ex-girlfriend of Hoanh Rcom, and a 12-year-old girl, who police identified as Hli Nie’s niece, are recovering from gunshot wounds. Hli Nie and Hoanh Rcom’s 10-year-old daughter was not injured, police said. H’ding Nie’s sister, H’wit Nie, said the 12-year-old is their youngest sister. She also said police gave a different spelling, Hdingh, for her slain sister.

Police said Hoanh Rcom sent a threatening message to Hli Nie while she was at a movie theater with Prago and the three children. The shooting occurred shortly after the group returned to Hli Nie’s apartment.

Hoanh Rcom and Hli Nie had a history of domestic violence, according to police and court documents. Police urged the group to pay attention to warning signs of escalating violence among their friends and family and to contact local agencies for help.

Lindy Beauregard , program director of the Child Response Initiative , explained how the nonprofit works with the police department to help children who need help coping with traumatic experiences, including domestic violence.

She said she had been involved in education programs with the Montagnards before, but she was impressed with Tuesday’s dialogue between the two groups.

“Part of what we have to do is recognize there are some cultural differences there and make sure that our services respect those difference but still get to where we need to be,” Beauregard said. “But that was critical. I thought it was wonderful that they were sharing.”

The Rev. Y’Hin Nie of the United Montagnard Christian Church in America in Greensboro, who helped assemble the group that met with police, said because of the language barrier people have been scared to contact the police. But now they are equipped with knowledge on how the police can help and who to call, he said.

Two people at the meeting expressed interest in giving police more information about the shootings.

“From that perspective, to know that there are two people out there in this community who had something to share about this case — that to me, that’s enormously helpful,” Miller said after the meeting.

The night ended with Montagnards shaking the hands of the chief, other command staff and detectives.

“Although tragedy brings us here tonight, I hope it won’t be the last time we get together around safety in the Montagnard community,” Miller said.

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