Tou Ger Bennett Xiong, a member of Coalition for Community Relations, said, "He (Sao Lue Vang) was just hunting like any other day, and he's been hunting for 20 years now. He's a veteran hunter, so he's not new to the process. They parked on public land, in a public street. They separated, they went hunting.”
Three weeks ago, 64-year-old Sao Lue Vang said he encountered one of his worst nightmares.
Vang said in Hmong, “I thought immediately, 'I'm never going to see my kids again'. If I didn't have my two friends there, he probably would have killed me."
Xiong said, "The result was there was an encounter. We don't know if it's on public land or private land."
On Nov. 5, the Pepin County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a dispute between Vang and Kevin Elberg, the son of the land owner. The sheriff's office said Vang was severely hurt.
Vang said, "Then, he took his knees and pushed it into my stomach, and I couldn't breathe, and then he took my rifle from my shoulder. Then, he took his hands and covered my mouth so I couldn't breathe."
It was an incident that had Sao and his family afraid for his safety and questioning the legal system.
Shoua Vang, Sao's daughter, said, "We were all scared. We weren't sure if he'd still be alive when we got there. We want justice. My father doesn't deserve this."
Mai Vang, Sao's daughter, said, "Now, my father is going to have this wound for the rest of his life. He's not going to be the same person anymore. He won't be able to cook for us, and he won't be able to help us with anything because of what Kevin Elberg did to my father. And, I need some answers, not just me but my whole family, the Hmong community needs some answers."
Xiong said, “There are some alarming questions that I think, and on behalf of the Vang family, that, ‘Why is, even if he was trespassing, what led to these injuries, to his body, a four-grade liver laceration, where they (medical staff) couldn't even address at one hospital, they had to transfer from Wabasha to a larger Mayo hospital to address?'”
The Pepin County Sheriff's Office said Elberg was arrested three days after the incident and then released without bond at the request of the Pepin County District Attorney.
The sheriff's office believes criminal charges against Elberg could be pending. We reached out to Elberg for comment but have not heard back.