Hmong Hunter Was Killed, Sheriff Says

The Associated Press
Monday, January 8, 2007; 9:46 PM

MARINETTE, Wis. -- An "accidental meeting" with another hunter led to a Hmong immigrant's death in a wildlife area, a county sheriff said Monday, in an incident that has threatened to re-expose racial tensions in the northwoods.

An autopsy confirmed that the death of Cha Vang, 30, of Green Bay was a homicide, said Marinette County Sheriff Jim Kanikula. He declined to specify the cause of death but said, "We are in possession of the weapon or weapons involved."

Vang's body was found Saturday in the Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife Area in northern Wisconsin. Deputies arrested 28-year-old James Nichols of Peshtigo that day at a medical center in Marinette after he showed up with a gunshot wound not considered life-threatening.

Nichols is a suspect in Vang's death and is being held for a probation violation as a felon in possession of a firearm, Kanikula said.

"While there is much I would like to tell you, there is much I cannot tell you," Kanikula said at a Monday news conference.

Authorities at the Marinette County jail did not have information Monday night on whether Nichols had a lawyer. A message left at the local public defender's office was not returned.

Vang's death came a little more than two years after Hmong immigrant Chai Soua Vang, 38, of St. Paul, Minn., killed six white hunters and injured two in northwestern Wisconsin. He claimed one of them fired in his direction after they shouted racial epithets. He is serving multiple life terms.

Vang is a common name among the Hmong, an ethnic minority group from Southeast Asia. Many have moved into the Midwest.

Even before the 2004 shootings, Hmong hunters claimed they had been harassed, and whites complained that the Hmong do not respect private property.

Kanikula said he did not know whether Vang's death was a hate crime.

Vang and Nichols were using firearms to hunt small game in an area where they had hunted before, Kanikula said. He added that he did not know whether Vang might have been accidentally shot.

© 2007 The Associated Press