, 39, has been at her
brother Chai's side since they were born in Sayaboury province in Laos.Mai
was the oldest of six children; Chai was the eldest of three sons.
As their parents farmed rice and corn amid hillsides and valleys, the brother and sister were inseparable.
were together all the time," said Her
Vang, a cousin who lives in Minneapolis.
When the extended family fled the Vietnam War for a refugee camp in Thailand, Mai
remembered how Chai fell in love with hunting, chasing after the elders to shoot birds and squirrels with them.
"Ever since we were little, we have been together because he
was the next child in the family," Mai Vang
said through an interpreter.She
recalled how, when the family first emigrated to St. Paul in 1980, she
brother went to work delivering St. Paul Pioneer Press newspapers before school.When they moved to Stockton after five years in Minnesota, her
brother always tried to be a leader, volunteering at a community center and doing whatever was asked around the house, she
always shared what he
had with me," said Mai Vang
, who lives in Blaine, Minn., and works on a medical-parts assembly line."Ever since we had our own families and didn't have a chance to come and visit one another, he
would always take the time to call and see how I was doing."
roughly 14 years in Stockton, Chai Vang spent six years in the California National Guard
, earning a sharpshooter badge, and drove a truck across 48 states.Mai Vang
said the family returned to Minnesota in 1999, seeking a lower cost of living and less demanding work.When their father, Cher Vang, died four years ago, Mai's brother was there for her
"I cried and missed my father very much, but we knew we had Chai as the oldest son in the family, so he
would lead us," she
said."All of a sudden, he
is in this situation, and it seems like hope is dying."She
began to sob when she
thought of the victims' families in Wisconsin and her
trip last Sunday to visit her
brother in the Sawyer County jail.
"We understand the pain and hardship of the families that have lost loved ones," Mai Vang
In a story that contradicts what the two survivors told police, Vang
sister that he
began to walk away and glanced back over his
told me a bullet flew by his
head and if he
hadn't turned around, it would have hit him in the back of the head," she
said."That's why he
gun and shot it."She
asked why he
didn't then leave before shooting seven others.
said there were just too many people and he
had to do what he
did to survive," she
When they arrived, Vang
explained that he
"got out of hand" during an argument with his
longtime wife, Say Xiong, about their impending breakup.
About a year ago, Vang
began courting Deu Lee Khang.
All told, records suggest Vang
has 10 children with four women.
Vang's run-ins with wildlife officers include a 2001 fine of $328 for possessing 93 crappies over the fishing limit.The next year, while hunting with Ber Xiong in Green Lake County near Madison, he
was ticketed for trespassing.When Vang
failed to appear in court or pay the $244 fine, an arrest warrant was issued.
Xiong, who lives in St. Paul and has known Vang
since they were neighbors in north Minneapolis in 2000, said they had permission to hunt on a farm owned by a relative, but a neighbor called authorities when she
heard gunshots.They told a deputy they had permission to hunt there, Xiong said, but the deputy told them they could explain that in court.Xiong paid the fine; Vang
About five years ago, Vang
began performing shaman rituals, according to Xiong, who would join him at the ceremonies.He
explained that Hmong shamans are blessed with special gifts, including the ability to speak to those "on the other side," curing ailments and seeing into the future during trancelike rituals.
has an altar and a special bench and jumps up and down and sends messages back and forth in a different language," Xiong said, through an interpreter."He
would always spend about an hour talking to the family and explaining what he
would do and what it meant.I would hold him and make sure he
Xiong hadn't seen Vang
for a couple of years, but bumped into him three weeks ago at a funeral in Maplewood.
had a very decent haircut, nice clothes and was very friendly and seemed as stable a person as ever," Xiong said.Her
Vang, the cousin and hunting partner who has lived near Chai Vang in Laos, Thailand, Stockton and Minneapolis, said he
last saw him a few weeks before the Wisconsin shooting.Her
Vang said Chai was never happier than when he
was at his
place near Mora, where he'd often invite his
relatives to enjoy the peace and calm.
"Absolutely, life was good," Her
family has left their home in St. Paul, fearing a backlash.Mai Vang
sister, has received calls threatening Chai Vang's family.
1980: Family emigrates to St. Paul, Minn., where Vang
older sister, Mai Vang
, deliver St. Paul Pioneer Press newspapers before school.1983-84: Vang attends Humboldt High School in St. Paul, receiving A's in social studies.
As a teenager, he
marries Say Xiong in a wedding arranged by his
family move to Stockton, where he
attends Franklin High School
1989: At Army basic training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Vang
aims at 40 targets, hitting 30 to 35 to earn a sharpshooter badge.He
is in the California National Guard
for six years.1990-95: Vang works as a teachers aide for disabled students, volunteers at a Lao Family Community Center and becomes a truck driver, crisscrossing 48 states.
1999: Family returns to St. Paul for better jobs and a lower cost of living.
Oct. 10, 2000: Vang's father dies.He
promises to take care of his
lands a truck-driving job with a local branch of Exel in Plymouth, working the night shift, mostly at a DaimlerChrysler
April 29, 2001: He
pays a $328 fine in Hennepin County for catching 93 crappies over the fishing limit.
Dec. 24, 2001: Police respond to a 911 call from Say Xiong, who says Vang
waved a gun at her
and threatened her
life during an argument about their pending separation.He
spends Christmas in jail.She
soon moves to Milwaukee, Wis., with their five children.
April 7, 2002: Vang
is fined $244 in Green Lake County, Wis., for trespassing while deer hunting.A warrant is issued when he
fails to appear in court.
2003: Vang defaults on child support payments for three children of Youa Lee.
May 2003: Vang
has a short relationship with Zia Yang, producing a baby named Ka Bao, birth records show.
Oct. 20, 2003: Vang
puts down $5,000 in cash and agrees to pay $1,260 a month in a contract-for-deed deal on 40 acres of wooded land in Kanabec County between Mora and Hinckley, Minn.
Sept. 14, 2004: Vang
takes a second job driving a delivery truck for Number 1 Couriers in Edina.
Nov. 21: With Minnesota deer season winding down and the Wisconsin season opening, Vang
heads 80 miles east of his
home.A confrontation between Vang
and local hunters erupts.