The Binghamton shootings
took place on Friday, April 3, 2009, at the American Civic Association
immigration center in Binghamton, New York, United States. At
approximately 10:30 a.m. EDT, a naturalized immigrant Jiverly Antares
Wong (aka Jiverly Voong) entered the facility and shot numerous people
Fourteen people were ultimately confirmed dead,
including the shooter, and four were wounded in the incident. The
injured people, aged from twenty to mid-fifties, were treated for
gunshot wounds at Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City and Our Lady of
Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton.
The American Civic Association in Binghamton provides
citizenship, cultural, and language assistance to the local immigrant
At about 10:30 a.m. EDT, Jiverly Wong barricaded the
rear door of the Binghamton American Civic Association building with a
vehicle registered in his father's name. He was described as wearing a
bullet-proof vest, a bright green nylon jacket, and dark-rimmed glasses.
Wong then entered through the front door firing a
number of bullets at those in his path. At 10:30 a.m. Broome County
Communications received several 911 calls, and the first police were
dispatched to the scene. Two of the Civic Association's receptionists
were among the first victims. While one of the receptionists was
reported to have been shot through the head and killed, the second, shot
in the stomach, feigned death and, when the gunman moved on, took cover
under a desk and called 911. The receptionist's call was taken by 911
staff at 10:38 a.m. The wounded receptionist, 61-year-old Shirley
DeLucia, remained on the line, despite her gunshot wound, for 39 minutes
and relayed information until she was rescued. She later recounted that
the gunman had simply opened fire, without saying anything.
The area where the violence was then focused was a
classroom, just off the main reception areas, where an ESL class was
being given to students. Everyone who was in that classroom suffered a
gunshot wound. Wong entered and began executing victims, taking some
hostage. Police arrived within minutes of the 911 calls; it was later
revealed, that when Wong heard the sirens, he took his own life by
turning one of his guns against himself. In all, Wong fired 99 rounds;
88 from a 9 mm Beretta and 11 from a .45-caliber Beretta.
Police remained at the perimeter of the property,
having locked down nearby Binghamton High School and a number of streets
in the area. At one point, not knowing if the gunman was alive or dead,
police summoned Broome Community College assistant professor, Tuong Hung
Nguyen, who is fluent in Vietnamese, to help communicate with Wong in
the event of contact.
SWAT members entered the Civic Center building and
began clearing it at 11:13 a.m.—43 minutes after the first call to the
police at 10:30 a.m., and 40 minutes after patrol officers first arrived
on the scene at 10:33 a.m. At the time of their entry it had not yet
been confirmed that Wong had committed suicide, and they proceeded with
caution. At approximately 12:00 noon, ten people left the building, with
another ten following approximately forty minutes later.
Some of the hostages had escaped to a basement, while
over a dozen remained hidden in a closet. Thanh Huynh, a high school
teacher of Vietnamese background, was asked to translate so the
Vietnamese survivors could be interviewed by the police.
Wong was found dead, in a first floor office of the
building, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A number of items were
found on Wong's body, including: a hunting knife, in the waistband of
his pants; a bag of ammunition, which was tied around his neck; and two
semi-automatic pistols (a .45-caliber Beretta and a 9mm Beretta,
matching the serial numbers on his New York State pistol license). Also
found at the scene were a number of unspent magazines, at least one
empty magazine with a 30 round capacity and a firearm laser sight.
By 2:33 p.m., SWAT had completed the clearing of the
building and all those inside had been evacuated.
The perpetrator in the American Civic
Association shooting was 41-year-old Jiverly Antares Wong (December 8,
1967 – April 3, 2009), a resident of Johnson City, New York. Wong was
born into an ethnic Chinese (Hoa) family in South Vietnam. He first came
to New York in the late 1980s before moving to California. In 1992, Wong
was arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor charge of fraud.
Wong became an American citizen in November 1995 and
sometime after that, left the United States to live in Ottawa, Ontario
in Canada. He later returned to the U.S., taking up residence in
Inglewood, California in December 1999. While living there, Wong married
and later divorced Xiu Ping Jiang; the couple had no children.
Wong worked for almost seven years as a delivery man
for a catering company called Kikka Sushi located in Los Angeles. Wong
failed to show up to work one day in July 2007, having moved to
Binghamton that month, and the company's next contact with him was when
Wong called seeking a copy of his W-2 earnings statement in 2008, asking
that it be forwarded to a New York State address. Although early reports
suggested Wong had recently lost his job at a local IBM plant in nearby
Endicott, New York, IBM stated they had no records showing Wong
had ever worked for the company. Wong worked at a local Shop-Vac vacuum
cleaner plant until it closed in November 2008.
Several sources suggested possible motivations for
Wong's actions, including feelings of being "degraded and disrespected"
for his poor English language ability, frustration over losing his job,
and difficulty in finding work in New York. Wong had also allegedly made
comments such as "America sucks" and talked about assassinating the
president, to his former co-workers at Shop Vac. Another one of his
coworkers stated, "He was quiet -- not a violent person" and "I can't
believe he would do something like this".
Package mailed to TV station
Several days after the incident, an
envelope was received by Syracuse, New York, TV station News 10 Now. It
was dated March 18, 2009, and postmarked April 3, 2009, the day of the
shootings. The three stamps used for the postage were: a liberty bell,
and two purple hearts. The package contained a two-page handwritten
letter; photos of Wong, seen holding guns while smiling; a gun permit,
and Wong's driver's license. In the letter text, various motivational
details are apparently revealed, but the bulk of the letter is a
rambling diatribe against the police, detailing the author's perceived
persecution by them.
Text of letter
Following is the verbatim text of Wong's letter to
News 10 Now, which includes numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and
punctuation. The two-page letter was handwritten, using (nearly) all
capital letters. Although the letter did not contain a signature,
authorities have no reason to believe that it was written by anyone
other than Wong.
“DATE: MARCH - 18 - 2009
DEAR: NEW TEN NOW
I AM JiVERLY WONG SHOOTING THE PEOPLE
THE FiRST I WANT TO SAY SORRY I KNOW A LiTTLE ENGLiSH
I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND ALL OF THiS. OF COURSE YOU NEED TO KNOW WHY I
SHOOTING? BECAUSE UNDERCOVER COP GAVE ME A LOT OF ASS DURiNG EiGHTEEN
YEARS. I GOT SEVEN YEARS AND EiGHT MONTH DELiVERY TO GROCERY IN THE
CALiFORNiA. CAME BACK NEW YORK ON THE AUGUST - 2007. LET TALK ABOUT WHEN
I LiVE IN CALiFORNiA. SUCH AS. . .COP USED 24 HOURS THE TECHNiQUE OF
ULTRAMODERN AND CAMERA FOR BURN THE CHEMiCAL IN MY HOUSE. FOR SWiTCH THE
CHANNEL Ti.Vi. FOR ADJUST THE FAN. FOR MADE ME UNBREATHBLE. FOR MADE ME
VOMiT. FOR CONNECT THE MUSiC INTO MY EAR.
UNDERCOVER COP USUAL COiNED SOME NASTY
WAS NOT TRUE ABOUT ME AND SPREAD A RUMOUR TO THE RECEiVER AND SOME
PEOPLE KNOW ME CONDUCE TOWARD MANY PEOPLE PREJUDiCED AND SELFiSH TO ME .
. . COP MADE ME LOST MY JOB . . . COP PUT ME BECAME POOR.
LET TALK ABOUT WHEN I LiVE AT THE 28.BAKER . ST. 2ND
FLOOR. JOHNSON CiTY. NEW YORK 13790. IT TERRiBLE WHEN I LiVE THERE SUCH
AS. . COP WAiT UNTiL MiDNiGHT WHEN I OFF THE LiGHT AND WENT TO THE BED.
COP UNLOCK MY DOOR AND CAME IN TAKE A SiT IN MY ROOM <<COP DiD IT
THiRTEEN TiME ON THE YEAR 1994>> ON THE THiRTEEN TiME HAD THREE TiME
TOUCH ME WHEN I SLEEPiNG. ONE TiME STOLEN 20 DOLLAR IN MY WALLET ONE
TiME USED ELECTRiC GUN SHOOT AT THE BEHiND MY NECK. (THAT TiME I DiD NOT
PLEASE CONTiNUE SECOND PAGE THANK YOU.
FROM 1990 TO 1995 NEW YORK UNDERCOVER COP TRY TO GET
A CAR ACCiDENT WiTH ME. SUCH AS WHEN I DRiViNG ON THE HiGHWAY AND ON THE
STREET UNDERCOVER COP SUNDDENLY BRAKE THE CAR STOP IMMEDiATELY AT THE OF
FRONT MY CAR . . . COP DiD IT 32 TiME LiKE THAT DURiNG 1990 TO 1995 BUT
I NEVER HiT THE CAR.
MANY TiME FROM 1990 TO 1997 AT THE DAY TiME . . . COP
EXPLOiT UNKNON ENGLiSH AND WENT TO MY HOUSE KNOCK THE DOOR FOR HARASS
AND DOMiNEER. OF COURSE DURiNG THAT TiME COP COiNED SOMETHiNG WAS NOT
TRUE ABOUT ME AND
SPREAD A RUMOUR NASTY LiKE THE CALiFORNiA COP.
FROM AUGUST - 2007 UNTiL NOW COP GAVE ME NOT TO MUCH
ASS ONLY ONE TiME COP LEAVE A MASSAGE IN MY VOiCE MAiL AND SAiD << COME
BACK YOUR COUNTRY >> AFTER FIVE MiNUTE I SEND A TEXT MASSAGE TO THEM I
SAiD I WILL CALL THE POLiCE AND THEY SEND IT BACK TO ME THEY SAiD THEY
ARE THE POLiCE
DEAR. NEW TEN NOW. RiGHT NOW I STiLL
GET UNEMPLOMENT BENEFiT OF THE COMPANY SHOP VAC ENDiCOTT. NEW YORK STATE
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WAS CHEAT AND UNPAiD FROM DECEMBER – 1st - 2008 TO
DECEMBER – 28th – 2008. I ALREADY CLAiM WEEKLY BENEFiT FROM THAT DATE.
ANY WAY I CAN NOT ACCEPTED MY POOR LiFE. BEFORE I CUT MY POOR LiFE I
MUST ONESELF GET A JUDGE JOB FOR MAKE AN IMPARTiAL WiTH UNDERCOVER COP
BY AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE WiTH ME GO TO RETURN TO THE DUST OF EARTH.
ALREADY IMPARTiAL NOW. . .COP BRiNG ABOUT THiS
SHOOTiNG COP MUST RESPONSiBLE. AND YOU HAVE A NiCE DAY.”
During this incident, a total of thirteen victims
were killed and four wounded. A detailed obituary for the victims was
published in The New York Times on April 6, 2009.
Parveen Ali, age 26, a migrant from northern
Almir Olimpio Alves, age 43, a Brazilian Ph.D.
in Mathematics and visiting scholar at SUNY Binghamton, attending
English classes at the Civic Association
Marc Henry Bernard, age 44, a migrant from
Maria Sonia Bernard, age 46, a migrant from
Li Guo, age 47, a visiting scholar from China
Lan Ho, age 39, a migrant from Vietnam
Layla Khalil, age 53, an Iraqi mother of three
Roberta King, age 72, an English language
teacher who was substituting for a vacationing teacher
Jiang Ling, age 22, a migrant from China
Hong Xiu "Amy" Mao Marsland, age 35, a nail
technician who migrated from China in 2006
Dolores Yigal, age 53, a recent immigrant from
Hai Hong Zhong, age 54, a migrant from China
Maria Zobniw, age 60, a part-time caseworker
at the Civic Association, originally from Ukraine
Among the four victims who were wounded:
Shirley DeLucia, age 61, the critically-wounded Civic
Association receptionist who feigned death and then contacted police
Long Huynh, age 42, a Vietnamese immigrant whose wife,
Lan Ho, was killed. Huynh attempted to shield her with his body, but
a bullet that first shattered Huynh's elbow, ricocheted, striking his
wife, and killed her. In addition to his elbow, one of Huynh's fingers
was shot off, a bullet hit his chest, and another bullet entered his
chin and exited through his cheek.
President Barack Obama referred to the shootings as "senseless
violence" and offered sympathies to the victims. New York Governor David
Paterson ordered state flags to be flown at half staff on April 8, 2009.
Wong's parents, Henry Voong and Mui Thong, issued a statement
apologizing for their son's actions.
Binghamton Killer Kept His Fury
By Manny Fernandez and Nate Schweber
The New York Times
April 11, 2009
In November, Jiverly A. Wong walked into an
employment center in downtown Binghamton. He had been laid off from his
job at a vacuum cleaner plant, and he needed help applying for
Speaking in broken English, he struggled to
communicate with a receptionist. She told Mr. Wong that a phone number
that he could call for assistance provided information in Chinese or
Japanese. She asked him if he was either one.
“No, I’m Vietnamese!” Mr. Wong told her, before
turning around and storming out.
Nearly two decades after arriving in America from
Vietnam, Mr. Wong still had trouble with basic English, a fact of life
for many immigrants, but a problem he seemed especially sensitive about.
He was an introvert who was secretive in the extreme, keeping his love
of guns and target shooting — and even his marriage — hidden from his
family, his oldest sister said. They had improved their English-speaking
skills and advanced their careers, while Mr. Wong, now jobless, had
moved back in with his parents on a dead-end street in nearby Union.
“I think he felt low and small,” said the sister, who
asked to be identified only by her first name, Nga. “But he didn’t share
his thoughts. He would always just say he was O.K.”
On April 3, Mr. Wong had a 10 a.m. appointment at the
employment center. He did not show.
Thirty minutes later and less than two blocks away,
Mr. Wong walked into the American Civic Association, where he had
recently taken an English class with other immigrants. Mr. Wong, 41,
returned to his old classroom and, in one of New York State’s deadliest
mass shootings, killed 13 former classmates and association employees
and wounded four others, firing 98 shots from two handguns in about a
minute, before taking his own life, the police said.
Beyond his struggles with language and work, Mr.
Wong’s motivation for taking so many fellow immigrants to the grave with
him may ultimately prove unexplainable. But in interviews with his
sister, friends of the family, neighbors, former co-workers and people
he met, a glimpse emerges of Mr. Wong’s fractured life.
Unlike Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people and
himself at Virginia Tech University two years ago, Mr. Wong displayed no
outward sign of mental illness. But it now appears that he was harboring
a growing paranoia, with a fixation on law enforcement rooted in a few
brief encounters that seemed to convince Mr. Wong that the police were
out to do him in.
Just before setting off on his massacre, he sent a
two-page delusional rant to a Syracuse television station saying the
police were spying on him, sneaking into his home and trying to get into
car accidents with him.
His other burdens were easier to detect. Moving from
one low-wage job to another, struggling to find stability and making few
friends along the way, Mr. Wong had felt that he had let down the family,
Nga said. “When everyone’s successful but you, you feel low,” she said.
“And in our culture, if you’re the oldest son and you’re not doing well,
you feel terrible.”
The last time she saw her brother, he seemed
withdrawn, but polite as always. He raked the leaves on the lawn outside
her house, and they reminisced about their childhood in Vietnam,
laughing about how they used to race around on roller skates.
Mr. Wong was the second oldest of four children, and
he came to the United States in July 1990 at the age of 22, immigrating
from Vietnam with his parents and siblings under refugee status. His
father, Henry Voong, 66, had fought in the Vietnam War, alongside United
States forces, as an officer in the South Vietnamese Army, according to
Nga and a friend of Mr. Voong’s.
The family — ethnically Chinese — had been excited
about finally coming to America. “We loved this country,” Nga said.
They quickly settled in the Binghamton area, and Mr.
Wong’s father became well known in the Vietnamese community. He often
volunteered at the Vietnamese Baptist Church in Binghamton, working as a
translator and helping people with their immigration paperwork, even
though his family was not Baptist, but Buddhist. “He show kindness,”
said Ho Le, the church’s pastor. “He help the refugee people.”
His son seemed to have had a harder time assimilating.
Within roughly a year, Mr. Wong left New York for Southern California.
Nga said the warmer climate and the area’s large Asian population
appeared to be part of the rationale for the move. Over the next two
decades, Mr. Wong moved back and forth between the Binghamton area and
the Los Angeles area.
In August 1991, he was arrested in California, his
first arrest in the United States. Details about that case remain
unclear. The next year he was arrested on a charge of passing a bad
check, the authorities said.
At least five times since 1990, Mr. Wong was arrested
or cited or had some minor contact with the police in either the
Binghamton or Los Angeles areas. About 10 years ago, the New York State
Police investigated a tip that he had a crack cocaine habit and was
planning to rob a bank, but nothing came of it. At the time of the
shootings, he was not a subject in any investigation, the authorities
In Inglewood, Calif., he was involved in a fender
bender, but was not arrested. In Johnson City, near Binghamton, he told
the police he suspected that someone had tried to break into his
apartment; the police found a loose window pane but no sign of burglary.
Two days later, an officer happened to pull him over for driving an
In his letter to the television station, he wrote
that the police made his life “terrible” when he lived in Johnson City,
and accused them of entering his home 13 times in 1994. From 1990 to
1995, he wrote, “New York undercover cop” repeatedly tried to get into a
car accident with him by braking suddenly in front of him as he was
Nga said that she did not recognize the letter’s
handwriting as being her brother’s, and that he had not told the
familyabout his paranoia about the police. The letter might be a sign
that he had “lost his rational thinking,” she said.
In 2000, Mr. Wong had settled in Inglewood, a city of
113,000 near Los Angeles International Airport, and started working as a
driver for a company that prepares and delivers sushi for supermarkets,
hospitals and universities, earning $9 an hour. He had become a
naturalized citizen five years earlier, yet still struggled with English.
Home was a just short drive from the sushi company,
at an apartment complex on Century Boulevard where the airplanes fly so
low that you can count the passenger windows without tilting your head
up. Mr. Wong lived from September 2000 to September 2007 in a studio
apartment with a window that looked out onto a brick wall. “He’d be
sitting in the hall with the postal boxes, smoking,” said Eric Sherman,
a neighbor. “He’d nod his head, sometimes say hi. There wasn’t anything
creepy or strange about him. He never did anything out of the ordinary,
good or bad.”
Mr. Sherman said he used to see uniformed police
officers monitoring the complex, which until recently had been a magnet
for drug dealing and prostitution. “I’ve seen them standing across there,
just watching the building,” said Mr. Sherman, pointing to the balcony
of a building next door.
A housekeeper who worked at the complex said that in
2006 and 2007, men in suits who resembled agents came to the apartment
complex “three or four times,” asking her and some tenants about Mr.
Wong. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other agencies,
said last week that it had no previous case involving Mr. Wong.
It was during this time that Mr. Wong’s life took a
sudden twist. On Dec. 23, 1999, at the age of 32, he married Xiu Ping
Jiang. But he kept the marriage a secret from most of his family,
neighbors and co-workers, some of whom described seeing Mr. Wong with
different women. The marriage did not last. He and his wife separated on
May 16, 2005, and were divorced more than a year later, on July 21,
2006, because of “irreconcilable differences,” according to the divorce
papers. The couple had no children. Her current whereabouts are unknown.
Mr. Wong stopped working at the sushi company in 2007
— leaving abruptly with no explanation, co-workers said — and he
returned to the Binghamton area.
He moved in with his parents, youngest sister and an
infant niece in a modest single-family house on Taylor Street in Union.
He began working at a Shop-Vac factory in Endicott, where he continued
to have difficulty communicating in English, sometimes pointing at the
parts he needed out of frustration.
But there was one thing Mr. Wong was talkative about:
guns. He was granted a New York State license to own a handgun in June
1997, and he would later become a member of two shooting ranges in the
Binghamton area. A clerk at Wal-Mart in nearby Vestal said Mr. Wong
would shop there for ammunition and bull’s-eyes for target practice. At
Shop-Vac, he showed his pistol permit to co-workers and boasted of
carrying a handgun in his glove compartment.
Last year, Mr. Wong went to one of the local shooting
ranges and spent hours practicing on targets 50 feet away. He was using
a semiautomatic Beretta pistol equipped with a laser sight, and he had a
pile of shot-up targets at his side. Mr. Wong’s style of target practice
caught the attention of the man shooting next to him, a few lanes over.
“He was basically shooting his shots in rapid
succession with virtually no hesitation between shots, very smooth and
steady and rapid shooting,” said the man, who asked that his name not be
Mr. Wong told the man that he had probably shot
10,000 rounds in about a year’s time. “He was pleasant,” the man
recalled. “He was courteous. You would never suspect that he would pose
a threat to anyone.”
After the Shop-Vac factory closed last year, Mr. Wong
started receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, a type of federal aid for
workers whose jobs are moved overseas, and became a regular visitor at
the employment center, said the center’s director, Terry Stark. One of
the center’s suggestions to him was to enroll in courses in English as a
second language, and Mr. Wong did, signing up for a class at the
American Civic Association in late January.
Though he was an immigrant just like them, Mr. Wong
had little in common with his classmates, and rarely engaged them or
their teacher in conversations, his teacher, Elisabeth Hayes, said. He
stopped showing up to classes in early March. “He never said anything,”
said Long Ho, a Vietnamese immigrant who along with his wife, Lan Ho,
39, was in the same class as Mr. Wong.
On April 3, Mr. Ho and his wife were seated in class
when Mr. Wong burst in. Mr. Ho tried to shield her from the bullets. He
was shot in the right arm but survived. His wife was killed.
On Thursday, Mr. Ho, his right arm and left wrist and
part of his face wrapped in bandages, sat in a wheelchair at his wife’s
funeral in Johnson City. His son and daughter, both in elementary school,
stood at his side, as friends and relatives rang bells and sang in
Vietnamese. With his one good arm, he touched his wife’s body in the
open coffin and bowed his head.
Asked why Mr. Wong had chosen to attack them, Mr. Ho,
on the verge of weeping, his voice barely a whisper, replied, simply:
Before Killings, Hints of Plans and
By Ray Rivera and Nate Schweber
The New York Times
April 4, 2009
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The night before
the killings, Son Quach spotted a former co-worker playing racquetball
alone at a gym here called the Court Jester. It was the third time he
had seen the man, Jiverly Wong, at the gym that week.
Mr. Wong told Mr. Quach, speaking in their native
Vietnamese, that he had been laid off and was living on $200 a week in
unemployment benefits. He spent so much time at the gym, Mr. Quach said,
because he could not find a job.
The next morning, according to the police, Mr. Wong,
41, burst into the headquarters of the American Civic Association, where
until recently he had been taking classes to improve his English,
wearing body armor and firing two handguns, killing 13 students and
employees and wounding four others before committing suicide. The
shootings on Friday were the nation’s worst killings since the 2007
massacre at Virginia Tech.
“At one point in his thinking process, he was going
to take the police on — or at least try to stop us from stopping him,”
Chief Joseph Zikuski of the Binghamton police said on Saturday,
referring to Mr. Wong’s bullet-resistant vest. “He must have been a
coward,” Chief Zikuski added. “When he heard the sirens he decided to
take his own life.”
The details of Mr. Wong’s life and the way it ended
were still being investigated, but in the buildup to the killings there
were hints of mounting frustration and evidence of premeditation. Like
many of those who were killed, Mr. Wong was an immigrant, striving to
gain a toehold in the United States as he moved between California and
upstate New York. But he seemed to have hit a wall, struggling to
improve his English, dependent on government aid and unable to find
financial stability amid the worst economic crisis in decades.
Chief Zikuski said that to people close to Mr. Wong,
“the actions that he took were not a surprise to them.”
“He felt that he was degraded because of his
inability to speak English, and he was upset about that,” Chief Zikuski
said. “This behavior on his part wasn’t a total shock.”
But to many who knew him, the sudden violence did not
fit the man they knew. People who worked with Mr. Wong, at a local Shop-Vac
factory, on an I.B.M. line in Endicott, N.Y., and at a sushi delivery
company in California, described him as amiable but reserved and someone
who kept to himself more because of his limited English than because he
was a loner.
He was also a gun enthusiast who often spent weekends
shooting targets and trying out different guns at a local sporting goods
store. He had been licensed to carry handguns in New York since 1996,
the police said.
Neighbors in Union, outside Binghamton, where Mr.
Wong lived with his parents and a sister, said they knew Mr. Wong’s
father as a kind man who grew grapes in the backyard and apples in the
front. They sometimes saw the younger Mr. Wong mowing the lawn but
otherwise said he mostly stayed inside when he was home.
On Saturday, his family posted a sign outside their
two-story house saying, “No press, please.”
Chief Zikuski said Mr. Wong, who the police say also
used the last name Voong, caught the attention of law enforcement
officials in 1999 after they received a tip that he was planning a bank
robbery and had a crack cocaine habit. He had a “criminal incident” out
of state, the authorities said, but they provided no details.
Mr. Quach said he worked with Mr. Wong at I.B.M. in
Endicott about seven or eight years ago taking apart computers. When
they saw each other at the gym that week, Mr. Wong told him that he had
moved to California because he could earn more money there, as a truck
driver, and that he had a girlfriend. “He said after he got laid off she
say, ‘Bye-bye,’ ” Mr. Quach said. “I said, ‘Maybe she loves your money.’
Hue Huynh, 56, Mr. Quach’s wife, who is a clerk at
Vietnamese market on Main Street in Binghamton owned by her brother, was
with her husband when they saw Mr. Wong at the gym.
“He told my husband, ‘I’m very upset I don’t have a
job,’ ” Ms. Huynh recalled.
“He said he tried to find a job but nobody like him.”
She said her husband tried to reassure him: “He told him, ‘You’re still
young, you will be okay, you will get a job again.’ ”
“He was a nice boy,” Ms. Huynh added. “He had bad
luck, he went everywhere but no good job for him.”
Between 2000 and 2007, Mr. Wong worked at Kikka Sushi
in Inglewood, Calif., near Los Angeles, earning $9 an hour as a driver
until he failed to show up for work one day, said Paulus Lukas, a human
resources employee for the company. Mr. Wong made few friends and rarely
socialized, he said, “but didn’t have any personal problems or anything
like that that we know of.”
At Shop-Vac in Endicott, which closed last year and
where Mr. Wong apparently worked next assembling vacuums, he was known
simply as Wong and wore jeans and T-shirts emblazoned with the New York
David Ackley, 18, who worked with Mr. Wong at Shop-Vac
for a few months, said he would often say that he had spent the weekend
at a firing range, and joked about shooting politicians.
“I asked him who he was going to vote for, and he
said, ‘I don’t really care, I’d shoot both of them,’ ” recalled Mr.
Ackley, whose father, Donald, also worked at Shop-Vac. When the elder Mr.
Ackley told Mr. Wong, “You better watch out, I’m going to call the F.B.I.,”
he said Saturday. Mr. Wong responded, “I’m just joking around.”
The two men said that they often talked to Mr. Wong
during breaks, but that the language barrier meant mostly superficial
“I asked him once about wife and kids,”
Donald Ackley said. “He said he had a daughter in California, I think
Los Angeles, but he never talked about it again.”
Mr. Wong was laid off, along with everyone else, the
day before Thanksgiving, a fact that left many workers embittered,
Donald Ackley said. But Mr. Wong seemed unperturbed, he said, and
instead sought help filing for unemployment.
“You think he would have been disgruntled about that,”
Mr. Ackley said. “What would have stopped him from coming to Shop-Vac
and killing all of us?”