Lue Xiong nearly lost his young son to an accidental shooting. The 2-year-old's brother accidentally shot the toddler with a handgun that wasn't locked up properly, and now, the boys' father is making a plea for gun safety.
Xiong's attorney told FOX 9 News his client still can't talk about what happened in St. Paul last August without breaking into tears. Fortunately, the toddler survived.
After the shooting, a judge ordered Xiong to talk to the Hmong community about the importance of gun safety. Now, he's sharing his feelings in another way.
When Xiong entered a plea agreement last December, he was sentenced to two years' probation as long as he shared his story with the rest of the Hmong community. Now, he's doing just that by describing what happened when his 9-year-old son got a loaded gun from a file cabinet and accidentally shot his 2-year-old brother, Jacob, in the head inside the family's home.
In a letter released by his attorney, Xiong implores gun owners to make sure their guns are locked and stored away safely "to avoid any tragic situation for you and your family."
"I am ashamed of myself and cannot face others due to this tragedy," Xiong wrote.
While Xiong said he and his family are lucky their son is healthy again, he urges others to learn from his mistake.
He finished the letter by saying, "I wake up every day haunted by it and will always think twice about safety for my family every second."
Robert Lor, of the Hmong 18 Council, told FOX 9 News lack of understanding about gun safety is a major issue in the Hmong community, and he pointed to a similar case in Minneapolis where a toddler was shot and killed by his 4-year-old brother after finding a loaded gun under a pillow.
"This is really pain," Lor said. "We are all looking to see our children grow to become leaders, successfully educated in this country -- and we don't want this to happen in any community."
Lor described the letter Xiong wrote as "excellent, and said he it will resonate with the entire community while reminding gun owners that tragedies like this can be avoided.
"I think the letter is good," he said. "He admitted to his mistake."
Xiong's attorney said Jacob, who is now 3, is expected to make a full recovery with no lasting medical problems. Meanwhile, the Hmong 18 Council hopes to plan a workshop on gun safety but doesn't currently have the funds.
I am Lue Xiong. I was charged with the negligent storage of a firearm involve an accidental August shooting last year in St. Paul, where my young son found my gun used for home protection, and accidentally shot my other son. To anyone who has guns, please make sure you locked and stored your guns safely away to avoid any tragic situation for your family. I am sadden and very sorry that it happened to my family and I. I am ashamed of myself and cannot face others due to this tragedy. Through my experience, I don't want it to happen to anyone else going forward. From now on, I will be more cautious with guns and educate others to be alert. My family and I have enough troubles and stress over this tragedy. I wake up every day haunted by it and will always think twice about safety for my family every second. We are lucky, because our son is healthy again. Please learn from my mistake and consider safety for your family.
FULL LETTER IN HMONG:
Kiv yog Lwm Xyooj. Kuv raug lub txim ua tsis khaws phom cia zoo chaw rau hauv tsev. Tsaib no, tau muaj teeb meem txog ntawm kuv tus mi nyuam tub tau kov kuv tsab phom zov tsev tua raug kuv tus tub mos liab. Hais rau txhua tus, thov nej muab nej cov phom xauv thiab khaws cia zoo chaw kom txhob muaj teeb meem raug koj thiab koj tsev neeg. Kuv tu siab heev tias tseem muaj tej teeb meem zoo li no poob raug kuv thiab kuv tsev neeg. Kuv txaj muag heev thiab tsis paub fim leej twg vim yog qhov teeb meem no. Kuv thov kom txhob muaj tej teeb meem zoo lin no poob raug leej twg mus yav tom ntej. Txij no mus, kuv yauv ceev faj heev rau kuv tus kheej thiab kuv tsev neeg kom zoo li zoo tau, tsis tas li ntawv kuv yuav cob qhia lwm tus kom paub ceev faj thiab khaws phom rau zoo chaw. Kuv thiab kuv tsev neeg muaj kev nyuaj siab txhov plawv thiab teeb meem ntau heev vim yog qhov teeb meem no. Txhua hnub kuv ntshai txig txog qhov teeb meem no ua rau kuv ceev faj txhua lub sij hawm rau kuv tsev neeg. Kuv tsev neeg tau muaj hmoo kawg ua kuv tus tub mos liab tsis muaj mob thiab zoo lawm. Thov nej coj kuv zaj dab neeg no mus cob qhia rau nej tus kheej thiab nej tsev neeg ceev faj kom zoo thiab txhob mauj teeb meem raug nej.