Leung Ying (also known as Loy Yeung) was a
Chinese mass murderer who, at the age of 29, killed 11 people and
wounded another four on a farm near Fairfield, California on August
22, 1928, before escaping the scene. He was arrested by police the
next day and sentenced to death on August 31. Ying committed suicide
in his prison cell on October 22, about two weeks before his set
This was the worst case of mass murder in
Californian history at that time, surpassing the killing of six
persons each by James Dunham on a farm in Santa Clara County in 1896,
and by John Goins in Stockton and Galt in 1926.
Ying, who also went by the names Wong Gay and Lim
Onn, had been arrested by San Francisco police in 1924 as a gunman and
narcotics peddler. He had a reputation as a killer, boasting he had
killed three people in a tong war, and was generally regarded as a
"bad" person. For some time he lived in San Jose and worked there at a
local packing plant. He was a member of the Hop Sing Tong, until he
was expelled due to his excessive use of narcotics.
For three months he was employed as a cook or fruit
picker at the Bryan ranch five miles from Fairfield, which was leased
by Wong Gee. Ying was eventually dismissed for either assaulting or
having an affair with Wong Gee's daughter Nellie.
Six months prior to Leung Ying's attack on the
ranch, another Chinese worker had run amok there with an axe and set
fire to two buildings, before he was shot by Wong Gee. The killing was
later declared an act of self-defense by the superior court.
On August 22, 1928, Ying, armed with a rifle and a
hatchet, and under the influence of cocaine, returned to the ranch and
attacked the residents and workers there.
According to reports, Ying first entered what was
variously identified as an underground gambling room, or a dugout,
where Wong Gee attempted to wake two farm hands. He shot Wong Gee
through the heart and also killed worker Cheung Yueng. Both were later
found by police lying fully dressed on a bed. The other farm laborer,
Wa Wey, was fatally wounded by a shot in the back, when he was trying
to run away.
Next the killer went to the house of Wong Gee's
brother, Wong Hueng, who had locked himself in and attempted to hide
under a bed, though Ying shot through a window, hitting him in the
abdomen. Ying then made his way to the home of the cook on the ranch,
61-year-old Low Shek, who was wounded in his cabin by a shot through
the stomach. Low Shek was later brought to Fairfield hospital, where
he died after a few hours.
While proceeding through a pear orchard towards the
home of Wong Gee, Ying shot and killed worker Yeung Soon. At the door
of the house he killed Wong Gee's wife with a shot between the eyes
and decapitated the 2 week old baby in her arms with the hatchet,
before walking into the children's room. There he shot Wong Gee's
4-year-old son, Johnnie, through the head at close range, before using
his axe to crush the skull of 3-year-old Willie Wong, who was lying in
his bed. Ying also fatally wounded 15-year-old Nellie Wong by shooting
her in the back, after she had jumped out of a window and tried to
escape through the orchard. She died in Vallejo hospital on August 27,
becoming Leung Ying's eleventh and final victim. Two other of Wong
Gee's children, Ruth and Helen, managed to escape unharmed by hiding
under a bed.
After mutilating the body of Mrs. Wong with the
hatchet, Leung Ying eventually escaped in an automobile owned by Wong
Gee. In less than 20 minutes he had killed or fatally wounded eleven
people and injured four others. The next day, after abandoning his car
and rifle, Ying was captured by police, while sleeping in a tank house
near the Empire mine in Grass Valley. He was taken to Nevada City,
where he was held until the arrival of the Fairfield authorities.
Wong E. Gee
Mrs. Wong Gee
Nellie Wong, 15, daughter of Wong Gee
Johnnie Wong, 4, son of Wong Gee
Willie Wong, 3, son of Wong Gee
Unnamed infant, 2 weeks old, child of Wong Gee
Wong Hueng, 56, brother of Wong Gee
Wa Wey, 40
Low Shek, 61
Yeung Soon, 40
Cheung Yueng, 64
During his interrogation Ying readily admitted to
having committed the murders, and stated that he had seen the police
officers trailing him during the night, and, although he had the
opportunity to shoot them at any time, he refrained from doing so,
because he feared he would be hanged, if he killed a white man. Asked
for the motive behind his rampage, Ying initially recited the story of
his love for a Chinese girl and the disapproval of this relationship
by her family. Furthermore he stated that the Wong Gee family tried to
kill him with poisoned food, so he killed them first, while he later
told that incessant teasing had pushed him to commit the murders. He
also expressed his admiration for Californian criminals Joe Tanko and
Floyd Hall, saying: "I just like Tanko and Hall - very, very sick."
The night after his arrest Leung Ying attempted to
commit suicide by hanging himself with a blanket. After this attempt
was foiled by prison guards he spent the night beating his head
against the floor and walls, crying for narcotics. The next day, on
August 24, Loy was arraigned at the Superior Court in Suisun City,
where again he admitted committing the murders, stating he wished he
had the opportunity to kill half a dozen more.
After pleading guilty, Ying was sentenced to death
by hanging on August 31, 1928. His execution was to take place on
November 9 of the same year.
On October 22, 1928, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.,
Leung Ying committed suicide in his prison cell in San Quentin Prison
by hanging himself with a towel.