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Published: Thursday, 11/25/2004

Suspected killer of 6 hunters did not live in Toledo area

Despite what was believed yesterday, the deer hunter who is suspected of killing six people and wounding two others in the woods of northern Wisconsin on Sunday did not live in Toledo in the 1980s.

It was reported locally, based on comments from social studies teacher Willie Braggs, that the suspect had been a student at Jones Junior High School in Toledo during the 1982-83 school year.

Mr. Braggs said Tuesday that Chai Vang was in his class at Jones and that "he seemed like a pretty good student."

But after examining Toledo Public Schools records, The Blade learned that the man suspected of the killings and the Jones student have different birthdates. In addition, their first names are spelled differently.

Chai Vang, 36, of St. Paul, who authorities said opened fire Sunday after a dispute over the use of a hunting stand on private property, was born Sept. 24, 1968, according to the Sawyer County Clerk of Courts office in Wisconsin.

The TPS student, whose first name is spelled "Chia," was born May 4, 1968, according to district records.

Many Laotian refugees were brought to the Toledo area in 1979 and the early 1980s.

Mr. Vang was arrested about four hours after the shootings as he emerged from the woods with an unloaded SKS 7.62mm semiautomatic rifle. He told investigators on Tuesday that he began firing after some of the victims called him racially derogatory names as he left the tree stand area and a shot was fired at him.

The suspect, a native of Laos, is a naturalized American citizen.

Military records obtained by the Associated Press show he spent six years in the California National Guard and earned a sharpshooter qualification badge. But his primary role during his time in the Guard, from 1989-95, involved clerical duties.

After his discharge, Mr. Vang spent two more years in the Individual Ready Reserve. His records also include a Good Conduct medal.

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