Fresno police say a man with a history of domestic violence killed a woman with whom he fathered five children before turning the shotgun on himself in a downtown Fresno medical building Tuesday.
The late-morning shooting caused panic in the building as patients and workers either scrambled to flee or sought hiding places as police from throughout Fresno rushed to the scene.
Deputy Chief Pat Farmer identified the gunman as Neng Moua, 43. The victim was not identified, but police said she was 33. Farmer said the couple was estranged, but he did not know whether they had ever been formally married. The victim had another two children by a separate relationship, he added. Farmer said the five children between Moua and the victim were located and they were unharmed.
Police rushed to the building housing Sang Pediatrics and Eye Medical Center at S and Mariposa streets at 10:52 a.m. after dispatchers reported that shots were being fired there.
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Witnesses said a man who turned out to be Moua entered the building, where the victim worked. Kelly Mek, 13, said she was in the medical office when a man entered carrying a shotgun and began speaking with an employee who was behind the desk.
After threatening the employee, the man dragged her to the floor, hit her, unwrapped the shotgun “and I guess he was going to shoot,” Kelly said. At that point, she fled the office.
About five minutes later, another shot was heard. Farmer said the police believe that is when Moua took his own life.
Tuesday evening police reported they had served a search warrant at Moua’s residence in the 8600 block of Shaw Avenue in Clovis and found a suicide note. Police did not explain what the note said.
Farmer called the shootings a “tragedy,” but said he was grateful that no one else was hurt. Farmer is in command of the department while Chief Jerry Dyer is out of town.
Moua had been involved in a domestic violence case 11 years ago, Farmer said. He and the victim were scheduled in court for a custody hearing in May. Moua had a residence in Clovis and police are trying to determine how he arrived at the shooting scene.
Farmer praised officers for their response. As some people fled from the gunfire, officers smashed windows in the building so that about 10 to 15 other people could escape. The first arriving officers then traded positions with SWAT officers, who went office to office looking for the shooter and other possible victims. Among those rescued was a woman hiding in an examination room with three children, ages 14, 9 and 2.
Arlene Rodriguez, a receptionist at Gary Gianetta Civil Engineering across S Street from the medical building, said she didn’t notice anything unusual happening until she heard gunfire.
“I didn’t see anything, but I did hear one gunshot,” she said. “And then we saw a couple from that office running toward us. ... They were just screaming and hysterical.”
“We just locked the doors and ran to the back,” she said. “We stayed back there because they had their children and up front there are all of the windows.”
Rodriguez said the couple were too emotional to say what had happened. “They were crying, and we wanted to take care of the babies and make sure they were calm.”
The woman’s death was Fresno’s 12th homicide for 2015. By this time last year, there had been 17.
Genelle Taylor Kump, executive director of the Marjaree Mason Center, said Tuesday’s incident was a stark reminder that domestic violence sometimes has fatal outcomes.
“This severe abuse doesn’t happen overnight; it can start with verbal abuse, escalate to physical abuse and unfortunately, as in this case, may result in death,” she said.
The center’s 24-hour confidential hotline is available at (559) 233-HELP (4357) to assist victims of domestic violence.