8 Year Old Shot with Sawed-Off Shotgun


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45R
October 22, 2003, 12:51 PM
http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/7640154p-8580605c.html

Family's tragedy deepens
A 15-year-old cousin is arrested in connection with the accidental shotgun slaying.
By Stephen Magagnini -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Tuesday, October 21, 2003



The shadow of tragedy that has shrouded the family of Fou Ta and Man Lin Saechao grew longer early Monday when police arrested a teenage cousin in connection with the accidental shooting death of their youngest child, Darren, 8.
The cousin, 15, was booked on suspicion of violating probation and illegal possession of the sawed-off shotgun that accidentally killed Darren.

The gun had been stashed in the teen's Oak Park back yard under a chicken coop that younger boys had turned into a clubhouse, police said.

Darren and the teen's 8-year-old brother were playing cops and robbers with the shotgun Sunday afternoon when the gun went off, police said.




The teen, who wears an ankle monitor, was on probation for burglary and wore gang clothing, Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Justin Risley said. He is not being named because he is a juvenile.
Darren, who wanted to grow up to be a police officer, died from a single shotgun blast to the side, police said.

He was the second child in his family to die in an accidental shooting.

Three summers ago, Darren's older sister Nai, a vivacious 12-year-old, was shot in the chest while she and some teenage friends were fooling around with a .22-caliber rifle. A 15-year-old boy was modifying the rifle when it accidentally discharged.

Monday, as relatives wondered whether the Saechaos' apartment was cursed, Fou Ta Saechao, 46, collapsed in tears.

"Nai used to help Darren with his homework," he said, pointing to their photos on the wall of the family's lime-green apartment. "They gave me hope because they were good students. I don't know what to do now."

Saechao, an Iu Mien refugee from the mountains of Laos, said he has been struggling for nearly 30 years to help his family escape war, poverty and despair.

He said two of his brothers served in a jungle army recruited by the CIA to fight the Lao communists during the Vietnam War. After Laos fell to the communists in 1975, the Saechaos, along with thousands of other Iu Mien, fled to refugee camps in Thailand.

Finally, in 1992, the Saechaos arrived in Sacramento, home to some 9,000 Iu Mien, many of them in Oak Park.

Saechao said that after his wife was diagnosed with a mental disorder, he agreed to stay at home to care for their six children.

Then, after their daughter Nai died, there were only five.

"She was my best hope for that family," said Nai's sixth-grade teacher at Oak Ridge Elementary, Mary Lawrence.

Nai, who dreamed of becoming a nurse, a pediatrician, a teacher or an attorney, "wanted to take care of children," Lawrence said.

While the Saechaos, like many Iu Mien refugees who don't speak English, had a hard time talking to their Americanized kids, the culture gap was even greater, Lawrence said.

"The kids want their culture in their hearts and in their home, but at school they want to be American kids," she said. "Nai wanted to spend the summer with me -- that's how much she wanted to be American."

Darren, the baby of the family, was a "happy camper" who had a gift for cheering up everyone around him, said his oldest brother's fiancee, Christy Vang.

Another brother, San Ta, 16, said Darren loved riding his bike and such kid fads as Yu-Gi-Oh cards and Digimon: "He was a good kid, kind of playful."

"He likes friends of different backgrounds," added his mother. "Sometimes he would ask me for money just so he could share it with his friends."

Darren's greatest joy, his family said, was going to school.

"He'd get up, put on his shoes right away, and then ask over and over, 'Is it time to go to school yet?' " said his father.

A few mornings ago, Darren, a third-grader at Ethel Phillips Elementary School, was walking to school with his father when he suddenly turned serious.

"He said, 'Dad, someday I want to be a police officer,' " Saechao recalled Monday. "I said, 'You have to be very studious, and have a strong mind so you can read everything in English, very quickly.' He said, 'OK, I'll study hard.' "

Darren didn't let his limited English hold him back, said his teacher, Jennifer Wiese, who spent Monday with her class talking about Darren.

"He was doing very well in language, reading and math," she said. "He was friendly with everybody. Anywhere I tried to move him, he was always talking. He made funny faces to make people laugh. I was amazed by how many kids he already knew."

His classmates remembered him Monday as a kid who could catch any ball kicked his way, and as a kid who prized fairness. Wiese wasn't surprised that he wanted to be a police officer. "He was very concerned about what was right in the classroom, and he was always looking out for others," she said.

Darren's father, who said he has never had guns in his home, asked again and again what happened, but none of his relatives seemed to know.

He said he had asked Darren, who was playing across the street, to come home because he had to leave to fix a friend's car. But Darren didn't come home.

Kevin Saephan, a relative who is board president of United Mien Community, said many uneducated Iu Mien parents who don't speak English aren't up to the task of raising kids without outside help.

"They can't communicate with the kids, and the kids do not listen to the parents," he said.

The family has set up a memorial fund for Darren Saechao at Golden One Credit Union, P.O. Box 15966, Sacramento, CA 95852, account No. 422049.



http://www.sacbee.com/ips_rich_content/410-shooting_two.jpg
The shooting Sunday that killed 8-year-old Darren Saechao, left, followed one that claimed the life of his 12-year-old sister, Nai Ta Saechao, right, three summers ago.

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Sportcat
October 22, 2003, 01:05 PM
tragedy, but

I don't think the guns "went off" by themselves.

boing
October 22, 2003, 02:21 PM
Odd how negligent people have the most "accidents".

Tragic and stupid.

outfieldjack
October 22, 2003, 02:27 PM
Sounds like alot of troubled people around that family.....

Daniel T
October 22, 2003, 02:29 PM
I would have thought lessons might have been learned after the first "accident". Apparently not.

El Tejon
October 22, 2003, 02:32 PM
"I don't play with guns, that's one rule of thumb . . ."

:rolleyes:

labgrade
October 22, 2003, 05:20 PM
To be entirely cold-hearted, please spare us all the drivel of "reporters."

Please.

I saw not one thing in the article about how long the shotgun was. Fed law dictates 18"+ bbl length or 26"+ overall.

One could cut down a 26" bbl to 25" & that's "sawed-off?" Technically, but hardly of any practical import, nor having any bearingon the discussion - no matter the sillyness of that '34 law in the first place.

"A 15-year-old boy was modifying the rifle when it accidentally discharged." & " ... were playing cops and robbers with the shotgun Sunday afternoon when the gun went off ... "

In over 44 years pf handling firearms, I have yet to have one "go off" without some form of human intervention. & to actually shoot someone requires a gross violation of at least 2 of The Big 4.

Screaming emotionalism & pure yellow-de-jour(nalism). :barf:

kudu
October 22, 2003, 05:30 PM
Tragedy, but a little firearm safety would probably of prevented both accidents.

feedthehogs
October 22, 2003, 05:54 PM
Ignorance is bliss.

Bring your family over here, don't learn the language or the culture.
Remain isolated in your own community not paying attention to what your Americanized kids are doing.

Make us raise your kids through our schools and institutions and then feel bad when something happens to one of them.

Guns will be demonized because of someones failure to teach.........ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

Don't get me started!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BluesBear
October 22, 2003, 09:51 PM
relatives wondered whether the Saechaos' apartment was cursed,
Yeah I guess STUPIDITY is a curse.
The teen, who wears an ankle monitor, was on probation for burglary and wore gang clothing,
There's a shocker.
He is not being named because he is a juvenile.
If you can name the juvenile victim why can't you name the scumbag that shot him?
Darren and the teen's 8-year-old brother were playing cops and robbers with the shotgun
Which one was playing the cop? If it was the other 8 year old is he npw playing "Paid Administrative Leave"?
The cousin, 15, was booked on suspicion of violating probation and illegal possession of the sawed-off shotgun
SUSPICION !?¿?! Wouldn't having any type of firearm be a DEFINATE violation?

Good Grief :rolleyes:




[flame suit]
A bumper sticker I saw recently sums it all up fpr me.

Welcome to America
Learn to speak English or get out.

[/flame suit]

lawcox
October 23, 2003, 12:16 AM
The only reason a 15 year old on probation would have an ankle tracker would be that the courts know that his parents can't control him! Another example of why we should have licensing for having children.

Ok, maybe a bit too far.

Standing Wolf
October 23, 2003, 12:23 AM
The cousin, 15, was booked on suspicion of violating probation and illegal possession of the sawed-off shotgun that accidentally killed Darren.

Another poster boy for probation and parole.

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