Wednesday, November 17, 2010
family is left to piece their lives back together after six armed men robbed their Eureka home early Thursday morning, lining up family members on their knees against the wall and threatening to kill them in the process.
The home invasion landed Neng Yang, 51, in St. Joseph Hospital with a two-inch laceration on his head after he was hit with a handgun by one of the suspects who demanded cash from the family. In an interview with the Times-Standard, Yang said the suspects arrived at the house around 5 a.m. on Thursday, taking a slew of items including his wallet, car keys, cell phone and $5,000 in cash.
The suspects, whose identities remain unknown, burst through the front door of the home and yelled “Sheriff's Department,” said Yang's son Trong Yang.
Neng Yang was still asleep when his bedroom door was flung open and a gun was pointed in his face.
”They wanted money, and I said, 'You're gonna to have to kill me because I don't have any,'” said Neng Yang, who was knocked unconscious when one of the suspects, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and bandana, hit him over the head with a handgun three times.
”I was scared,” said Neng Yang, who needed six staples to close the wound. “I've never seen something like that.”
When he regained consciousness, Neng Yang said, the first thing he remembered was his 10-year-old daughter being dragged outside as the men threatened to kidnap her if they didn't get money, at which point Neng Yang directed the suspects upstairs and told them where to find the family's savings.
The rest of the family, meanwhile, was being held on their knees facing the wall at gunpoint in the living room, including Trong Yang, 26.
”They just kept demanding money,” Trong Yang said, adding that he didn't know what was happening to his father when he heard him being beaten because the suspects wouldn't allow him to turn around. “I wasn't sure if they had shot him.”
While the suspects were searching the bedroom for cash they found a couple of stray bullets, Trong Yang said, which were from his newly purchased Colt AR-15 style .22 caliber rifle. At that point Trong Yang said he told them where to find the gun, as well as his father's .32 caliber handgun.
Neng Yang said he and his wife are unemployed, and the family's only source of income is Social Security checks. The couple is originally from Thailand and moved to Eureka in 1991.
Of the $5,000, Neng Yang said $3,000 was money from a car his oldest son just sold, and $2,000 was money that Neng Yang said it took the family years to save.
”Everything's gone,” said Neng Yang, who has lived with his wife and three children on Progress Street for more than 10 years. “I don't know what to do.”
Along with their savings, the suspects stole three video game systems and a laptop computer, and at one point poured water on the TV in the living room, telling the family that if they could not take the item because of its size, the family “couldn't watch it either.”
The suspects then broke into the family's garage, where Neng Yang had 11 small marijuana plants, for which he said he had a Proposition 215 card. The men then fled the home and the family called the Eureka Police Department, which responded a few minutes later.
EPD Detective Terry Liles said he believes that one or more of the suspects must have known the family had cash in the house, and that they were probably not seriously interested in kidnapping the young girl.
”This was definitely not random,” Liles said, adding that the small marijuana grow did not appear to be the main motive for the crime. “They were obviously just starter plants.”
EPD officers later checked for fingerprints left behind throughout the house. The suspects are described as all males in their early to mid-20s, wearing hooded sweatshirts and navy blue or black bandannas over their faces, and ranging in height from 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 8 inches.
Because of the bandanas, family members could only offer conflicting further descriptions, something that Liles said complicates the situation.
”It always makes cases like this a little more difficult,” Liles said. “Sometimes it takes a little while to figure this stuff out.”
By noon Thursday, the family had begun cleaning up the mess the suspects left behind, and Neng Yang's oldest daughter Yee Yang -- a 28-year-old certified nurse's assistant at Pacific Healthcare and Rehabilitation -- was home to help.
”We're just going to support each other and try to recover,” said Yee Yang. “There's nothing else we can do.”
The investigation into the case is ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Terry Liles at (707) 441-4032.