By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
He is soft-spoken, bespectacled, and shy. At age 16, he looks and sounds like any ordinary teenager.
His mother, My Linh Nguyen, was killed right in front of him 13 months ago. Anthony (we are not using his real name since he is a minor) was inside the family home when “he heard his mother outside yelling his name and crying for help,” according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Nguyen was walking home from work on Dec. 15, 2016, when a man tried to steal her purse near the corner of 39th Avenue South and South Warsaw Street. She refused to give it up and he dragged her along the sidewalk. The man then shot Nguyen multiple times.
“That morning, we didn’t think that anything was going to be different,” Nguyen’s husband Lam Lieu said in Vietnamese, in an interview with Northwest Asian Weekly shortly after the crime. “Our family was so happy. But that night, people called me.”
Today, Anthony is a junior at Garfield High School, and is taking Running Start classes at Seattle Central College. He walks the same route home that his mom used to. It’s about a 10-minute walk.
Anthony said Lieu is worried for his safety. Anthony, in turn, said he is worried about his dad. He said Lieu doesn’t talk much about what happened, but when he does, it’s with Nguyen’s side of the family.
A counselor from Anthony’s school recently checked up on them. “We didn’t think [the counselor] was much help,” said Anthony.
When asked what he misses most about his mom, Anthony joked, “Her yelling. She would always yell at me — usually about stuff I didn’t do. [The level of yelling] also indicated the type of day she had [at work].” He also misses having her at home, especially after school. They used to have dinners together. Now, his father works frequently and their house now sits largely empty.
Death anniversary ceremony
Đám giỗ, or death anniversary, is a big part of Vietnamese culture. The occasion was marked on Dec. 20, 2017. Anthony said approximately two dozen people — mostly relatives — visited his home.
The occasion is not only a day to remember the deceased, but it’s also an opportunity for the family to gather, and many people will bring food. During the service, they will burn incense sticks while praying to the souls to come and join the family reunion time.
Anthony told the Northwest Asian Weekly that he is “confused” by the police investigation into his mother’s killing.
In August, the police were contacted by a witness identifying a man named Arshawn Mason as the alleged killer. Police then put together a photo montage that included Mason and showed it to Anthony — he identified Mason as the shooter.
On the night of Nov. 13, 2017, Mason showed up at police headquarters with his lawyer to turn himself in, but he was released later that same week.
Linh Thach, the Seattle Police Department’s Asian community liaison, told the Northwest Asian Weekly that Mason is no longer a suspect, and that the investigation is ongoing.
Shades of mom
A family friend recently reached out to Anthony on Facebook, saying he had a dream about Nguyen — that she asked him to check up on Anthony because she was worried about him.
Anthony told us it was surreal because he was having trouble in school at the time. But he said, “I’m fine now.”
He also shared something that happened five months after his mother’s death.
“I felt her presence during yoga class,” Anthony told the Northwest Asian Weekly. He said it felt “comforting.”
If you have information about Nguyen’s homicide, call the Seattle Police Department’s tip line, 206-233-5000, or Crime Stoppers, 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).