Riverside neighbors hold vigil held for toddler shot by brother - KMSP-TV

Riverside neighbors hold vigil held for toddler shot by brother

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A father, a family and a community of neighbors gathered over the weekend to mourn the accidental shooting death of 2-year-old Neegnco Xiong.

The boy was fatally shot by his 4-year-old brother, and the tragedy has been a wake-up call for any family with a weapon in their home.

Kao Xiong, the boy's father, spoke with FOX 9 News on camera for the first time, at the vigil -- and the pain of an entire community that wishes the tragedy never would have happened could be heard in his voice.

Xiong is living every parent's nightmare. He came home to have lunch with his wife and three children on Tuesday, and didn't find it unusual that his 2-year-old son ran upstairs to play with his 4-year-old brother. Minutes later, he heard a gun shot and knew it came from the pistol he kept in a holster under his pillow.

Xiong rushed upstairs to find Neegnco Xiong bleeding from his stomach while his younger brother tried to hid under the bed.

Despite calling 911 and trying to perform CPR on his young son, the boy died in the ambulance on the scene.

"You can never ever replace a child. This is a time of profound loss," said Pastor Harding Smith.

It was evident in the prayers and candlelight that the loss unified a deeply saddened neighborhood, shaken by the loss of a life barely lived to a preventable accident.

"This little boy's brother did not intentionally do this to take his brother's life," said Mary Johnson, who lost her own son to gun violence. "I can't imagine the pain that the parents are going to have to go through."

All those who gathered at the vigil expressed their grief for the family.

"The whole neighborhood is crushed," said Jane Buckley-Farleee, of Trinity Lutheran church. "They're devastated, and it'll take a very long time for this neighborhood to heal."

It is still unknown whether Xiong will face charges in the shooting. In Minnesota, it is a crime to leave a weapon where a child can access it. His three other children remain in protective custody.

"Everybody is feeling pain for the family," said City Councilman Cam Gordon.

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