By Sue Misao
Northwest Asian Weekly
Tony Ng, convicted for participating in one of Seattle’s deadliest shootings, was deported to Hong Kong on May 13 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations.
Wai Chiu “Tony” Ng, 57, was escorted by two officers on a multi-segment commercial flight that left Seattle-Tacoma International Airport the morning of May 13 and arrived at Hong Kong International Airport the next evening (local time). Ng had been held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma since his parole from Washington state prison in December 2013.
The exact date of Ng’s removal had been kept secret for security reasons, according to ICE public affairs officer Andrew Munoz. When the Asian Weekly made a routine inquiry into the status of the deportation on the morning of May 14, Munoz replied, “I’m not able to comment on his case yet.” In fact, Ng had been placed on a plane to Hong Kong the morning before.
“I thought, ‘Is she reading my mind?’” said Munoz, when he was later asked about the coincidental timing of the question. But ICE couldn’t release the information until it had gotten confirmation that Ng had landed on Hong Kong soil, and until the U.S. State Department had reviewed the press release announcing the deportation. The news was announced on May 15.
Ng was sent to ICE custody after serving 28 years in prison. After his release, it took five months for ICE to obtain the required travel documents from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, paving the way for Ng’s removal. Ng is a citizen of Hong Kong and was never naturalized in the United States.
In February 1983, Ng, then 27 years old, and two other accomplices went to the Wah Mee Club in Seattle’s International District, where they hogtied, robbed, and shot 14 people, leaving 13 dead. The Wah Mee was an exclusive gambling club located off Maynard Alley in the basement of the Louisa Building, which burned last Christmas.
After the murders, Ng fled to Canada, but was found and deported to the United States by Canadian authorities in October 1984. In July 1985, he was convicted of 13 counts of first-degree robbery and one count of second-degree assault. Ng was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.
During his 28 years in prison, Ng professed to be a changed man, apologizing to the family members of his victims and living as a model inmate.
In an exclusive 2009 interview with Amy Phan of the Northwest Asian Weekly, he detailed the events that led up to his participation in the heinous crime, beginning with his own gambling debt.
“During his trial, Ng said he acted under duress, claiming he felt his life would be in danger if he did not participate in the crime,” Phan reported.
Despite asking for forgiveness, relatives of the victims continuously spoke against Ng’s parole each time he came up for it, all the way up to and including when he was finally granted parole last December.
While in prison, Ng said a cellmate “introduced him to the prison church program,” Phan reported. “There, he discovered the peace of forgiveness.”
Ng took college courses and built furniture during his imprisonment. A Seattle pastor told the Asian Weekly in earlier interviews that he connects reformed inmates with Christian business owners in Hong Kong, and that he would like to help Ng find work upon his release.
According to a Seattle community leader who also traveled to Hong Kong and met Ng there, Ng said upon his arrival, “I hope some day the victims’ families will forgive me.” Ng hasn’t been back to Hong Kong since he left there more than 30 years ago, at age 13. He plans to visit his father in China.
According to Munoz, deportees such as Ng generally cannot apply to re-enter the United States for 10 years. (end)
Sue Misao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.