A Hmong-American police officer in St. Paul, Mn. was arrested in connection with two drive-by shootings after weeks of turmoil over attacks against the Southeast Asian community, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Police were led to officer Tou Cha by tracing a threatening phone call, which he allegedly placed while on duty, and by matching evidence from the shootings to his department-issued handgun.
The arrest of Tou Cha, 35, for suspected aggravated assault with a firearm, came after a firebombing, an arson fire, an attempted arson, and a drive-by shooting. St. Paul has the largest Hmong population of any U.S. city–more than 24,000. The firebombing incident targeted the son of Gen. Vang Pao, the leader of a secret CIA army that battled communist insurgents in Laos during the Vietnam War. Some in the Hmong community questioned whether Tou Cha had been framed or whether communist agents had influenced him. Others theorized that the gunshots were a symbolic challenge to old-guard Hmong leaders or that a personal grudge might explain them.