ST PAUL, Minn. — Leaders in the Hmong community have spent the last few days trying to find ways to heal, while offering assistance to those in need in the wake of such a heartbreaking tragedy.
Something they haven't had to do in quite sometime.
It's been more than two decades since a domestic violence case sent shockwaves though the Hmong community. It was the murder of Hmong children in September 1998 in St. Paul.
"When a mother, a Hmong mother killed six children," said Paul Xiong, President of the Hmong 18 Council.
That led to the launch of the Hmong 18 Council, it's served as a beacon of resources in the community and a safe space for counsel, which Xiong says is critical to saving lives.
"The Hmong community, we have a unique culture that sometimes the Hmong people don't feel comfortable going out to seek help from, like, say, to see a counselor or a psychologist," explained Xiong. He went on to say, "we need to have more programs and more help."
Programs which Xiong says could have helped save the Lee family last week in Maplewood.
Police say 28-year-old Yee Lee died by suicide, and his wife, 23-year-old Molly Cheng, drowned their three kids before taking her own life in Vadnais Lake.
"A lot of people call me, especially those like Hmong ladies, they have family issues and things like that," Xiong said. "They usually call me and seek help, ask for assistance — what should they do."
Leaders with the Hmong Council are now trying to figure out how to support two families.
"Right now, they don't have any money," said Xiong of the Lee and Cheng families.
A GoFundMe account was set up by the Hmong Council to assist with funeral expenses for proper Hmong burials.
"For the Hmong, we usually do a funeral — at least, one day to two days, sometimes three days — that will cost anywhere about 10 to 15,000 dollars," Xiong said.
Expenses coming at a time when an organization is having to carry the heavy weight of tragedy 24 years later.
"This shocked the Hmong community," said Xiong.
The Hmong 18 Council, along with families, elders and community, will gather at Vadnais Lake on Saturday, July 9 from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. for a candlelight vigil and present flowers for the three children and parents.
Watch more local news:
Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist: