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NEWS BRIEFS

Compiled from Bee staff reports, The Fresno Bee April 2, 2002, Tuesday

POLICE

No suspects in death

Suspects have yet to be identified and a motive still is unclear in the shooting death of 31-year-old Bee Chang, who was killed while attending a traditional Hmong funeral service Friday night in Merced, police said.

Chang of Merced was shot once in the neck, witnesses said. His cousin, 28-year-old Tong Thao of Sacramento, survived a gunshot wound to the neck.

Authorities believe two people fired at the funeral gathering -- which drew 150 to 200 people to a home in southwest Merced -- from a playground at Tenaya Middle School.

"It looks like they shot into a crowd and killed an innocent person," Sgt. Norm Andrade said. "But I don't have leads at this point."

Chang and Thao were standing under a makeshift tent on the front yard of the home when they were shot, relatives said.

The funeral was for 48-year-old Phoua Chang, who died March 23 of natural causes. Mourners arrived in Merced for the three-day service from across the state and throughout the country.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers, (559) 498-STOP.