A call for justice at candlelight vigil for slain Durham restaurant owner

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- As a violinist played solemnly outside a darkened China Wok, patrons-turned-mourners came by the dozens to remember the store's owner they say greeted them with a warm smile every time they walked in.

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"I live exactly behind the family," said Tahra McLaughlin, who along with her 10-year old son, Christian, aren't just customers, they're Hong Zheng's neighbors.

They heard the gunfire Sunday night as Zheng was shot and killed in his driveway on Carlton Crossing Drive. At first, McLaughlin thought it was the thunderstorm until she realized it wasn't.

"But we could still hear the barrage of gunfire, probably 15 to 20 shots going off," she said.

Zheng, 42, and his wife, Shirley, had just closed China Wok for the night Sunday. They arrived home minutes later, with unwelcome visitors waiting outside.

Durham Police said they believe the couple was targeted. It wasn't the first time. But on Sunday, Zheng lost his life as part of a troubling trend facing many Asian-American owned businesses.

"It's perceived that Asians have cash-based business, they're unarmed, they're defenseless," said Cyndy Yu-Robinson, a member of the board of NC Asian-American Together.

On Friday night, these customers and friends came to show the family they're loved and not alone.

"I talked to them every day. They're not well," Pat Thiesen, the family's piano teacher, told the crowd. "The mom is still in bed. Her body is shut down."

As mourners signed their condolences on the whiteboard outside the restaurant, many of them called for the killers to be brought to justice.

"We demand answers," Faisal Khan of the Carolina Peace Center told the crowd. "We demand that (Durham Police and district attorney) step up the investigation and find the people responsible for this horrible tragedy."

While police search for the killers, a YouCaring site has been set up to help the family cover expenses following the tragedy.
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