Shielding wife from gunman, husband felt her ebb away

CanWest News Service
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Long Huynh pushed his wife to the floor immediately after the gunman entered their classroom Friday morning.
As Jiverly A. Wong opened fire on the class of immigrants learning English, Huynh stayed on top of Lan Ho, protecting her in the hopes she could survive to take care of their two children. He received multiple gunshot wounds, including one to his chin and another that shattered his elbow.
Waking up in the hospital later, after surgery, he knew that his wife wouldn't be there.
"Don't lie to me. My wife is dead. She died in my arms," he told his family, according to his sister Tina Nguyen, 28.
During the hour that he waited for police to enter, afraid he might die if he closed his eyes, he could feel her body go cold, she said.
The family has yet to tell the couple's children, a boy and a girl aged 11 and nine, that their mother is dead, a victim in Friday's shooting at a non-profit organization that offers services to immigrants.
"I don't know how to tell them what happened to their mom," Met Tran, Nguyen's mother-in-law, said through tears.
Tran and Nguyen gathered with 10 others in front of the American Civic Association early Sunday afternoon, placing food and incense at the building's makeshift memorial to observe a Buddhist prayer service for Lan Ho, 39, one of 14 who died inside that building Friday. Four others, including Huynh, were wounded. Still in hospital, they are all expected to recover, police said.
Wong, 41, a resident of nearby Union, N.Y., entered the building where he'd dropped out of English classes in the first week of March and opened fire, reportedly without saying a word. Police have said he was wearing a bulletproof vest. He had a gun licence, on which the two weapons found with him were listed.
In the days following the mass shooting that has rocked this quiet city of about 45,000, the building where the shooting occurred has remained a beacon for the bereaved and the curious.
Since 2005, more than 7,100 immigrants have settled in Binghamton, more than 70 per cent of whom have come from Asia, according to city statistics.
Wong, too, was an immigrant. Originally from Vietnam, he entered the United States sometime between the late 1980s or early 1990s, according to Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zakuski.
He spent time in California, where he was married and divorced, and in New York state where he most recently lived with his parents and sister on a quiet cul-de-sac in Union, a small community near Binghamton.
In the fall, Wong lost his job at a local vacuum assembly plant. Police have said he felt "degraded" because of his poor English skills.
But what motivated him to drive to the Civic Association Friday morning, park his car to block the building's back entrance and walk in, shooting 13 dead before turning the gun on himself, remains a mystery, officials said Sunday afternoon.
Binghamton is about 250 kilometres northwest of New York City.

Organizations: American Civic Association

Geographic location: California, BINGHAMTON, N.Y., Binghamton New York City Union, N.Y. Asia Vietnam United States

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