Grief-stricken family and friends of boy and woman killed Christmas Day raise funds for memorial
By André Coleman 01/16/2013
Family members and friends of a Glendale woman and her cousin, both killed in a Christmas Day traffic collision in Pasadena that occurred after a car being chased by authorities ran a red light and rammed into the minivan they were in, are inconsolable and trying to raise money for their memorial services.
“Right now, the whole family can’t believe it. They can’t do anything but cry and sob,” Kathleen Ong Tan posted on Facebook last week. Kathleen’s 25-year-old sister, Tracey Ong Tan of Glendale, was killed in the crash, along with their 11-year-old cousin, Kendrick Ng.
Injured were the mother and sister of the boy as well as his father, who all reside in Daly City. The family was returning to Glendale from skating at the Pasadena ice rink when the collision occurred at around 8 p.m., Kathleen Ong Tan wrote in an email.
The crash was tangentially connected with the murder earlier that day of longtime Pasadena community activist Victor McClinton, who was gunned down in front of his home. According to police, McClinton was standing outside his house on Newport Avenue when a car driven by the supposedly intended target of the shooting, Damion Taylor, 24, passed by.
Taylor, who police say had known gang connections, was also shot but survived. Taylor has since been released from Huntington Hospital, according to Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra. Three men have been arrested in connection with the shootings, which occurred at about 11 a.m. that day.
Later that evening, authorities say 22-year-old Darrell Lee Williams was seen driving a silver Dodge Durango near the place where McClinton was killed. The vehicle resembled an SUV that had been spotted near the crime scene. After the Durango went through a stop sign at the corner of North Marengo Avenue and Claremont Street, a black, unmarked FBI vehicle — accompanied by a Pasadena police officer — followed it. Police say witnesses told them a gun had been thrown from the Durango, which authorities say was traveling at about 60 mph down densely residential Marengo Avenue before running a red light at Marengo and Maple Street, a connector road to the Foothill (210) Freeway. That was where it collided with the Ng family’s minivan.
The FBI agent driving the SUV is a member of the Safe Streets Task Force, first established in 2007 to take down sibling gang members Franklin and Dwayne Thompson. Authorities allege the two ran a narcotics and weapons operation that reached the East Coast and used a big-rig truck to transport drugs and guns into Pasadena, where the contraband was then sold to other gang members. That operation led to 12 local murders in 2007, according to authorities. The task force investigation of the gang’s activities led to 89 arrests, among them the Thompson brothers, and 28 federal indictments.
Williams, of Pasadena, and Brittany Washington, 22, of Los Angeles, were arrested after the chase and charged with two counts of murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the deaths of Ong Tan, whose last name was initially misspelled by police and, subsequently, by this and other newspapers, and Ng. If convicted, the two face life in prison. Williams is being held on $3.1 million bail. Washington is being held on $2.1 million bail. No charges were filed against Pasadena residents Jada Mays, 18, and Damauria Hannah, 22, who were riding in the Durango Williams was driving that night.
Since the crash, the deaths of Ong Tan and Ng have been largely overlooked by the mainstream media, which has focused much of its attention on the shooting death of McClinton, a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department technician. That incident was the second local shooting incident in three days involving a sheriff’s employee. Around 3 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, an unnamed deputy driving around the area of Harriet Street and Lincoln Avenue — less than one mile from the McClinton shooting — was riding in a vehicle with his brother when the two men came under fire. In that incident, a passenger in a dark-colored Lexus fired three times at the deputy, according to Pasadena Deputy Chief Darryl Qualls. The vehicle was hit once. No arrests have been made in that case, Qualls said.
Also injured in the Christmas Day crash were Irene Ng, 52, and her daughter, Crystal Ng, 16, who were admitted to Huntington Hospital and released on Dec. 30 after being treated for broken bones and concussions. Kenric Ng, 49, Crystal and Kendrick’s father, also suffered minor injuries. He was treated at Huntington and released the night of the incident.
“[Irene and Crystal] are both in wheelchairs right now,” family friend Joy Pastamonte Henry told the Weekly. “The family will not just have to grieve Tracey and Kendrick, but they will also have to figure out how to help Crystal and Irene, who are going to need a lot of physical therapy.”
Henry, whose daughter attended school with Kendrick at Our Lady of Mercy in Daly City, said she established a Web site — gofundme.com/lovekendrick — to help raise money for memorial services. Development of a second Web page is being considered to help pay for physical therapy for Irene and Crystal. So far, $4,000 has been raised.
“The fundraising is going really good, and Mercy High School in Northern California, where Crystal goes to school, is talking about doing fundraising as well. They have not finalized the memorial or the funeral [plans],” Henry said. “Whatever we can raise, we will raise.”
Henry described Kendrick as a happy-go-lucky youngster who always had a smile for people he met.
“One of the things that struck me was he was a very sweet boy,” Henry said. “He was not rambunctious at all. They were a very generous and good family. They were always involved in the community and very nice.”
No members from the Ng family appeared in Pasadena Superior Court on Jan. 7, when Williams and Washington were set to be arraigned. Handcuffed and dressed in jail jumpsuits, the pair appeared in court but did not enter pleas at the time. Their arraignment was rescheduled for Tuesday.
A lawyer for Williams said his client did not know the unmarked SUV following him prior to the collision contained an agent with the FBI and a Pasadena police officer.
“Think about it. A black-on-black SUV started following them in the middle of the night,” said attorney F. Freddy Sayegh. “[Police] started a high-speed chase for a supposed stop sign violation? Somebody needs to start talking about this.”
Pasadena police Chief Phillip Sanchez said there was no question Williams knew he was being followed by police. In fact, authorities say Williams briefly pulled over at one point, but then sped away as the uniformed police officer approached the vehicle.
Regarding the chase, “[Williams] knew it was law enforcement,” Sanchez said. “The driver yielded after the officer turned on the red lights. But when [the officer] approached the vehicle, the driver fled away at a high rate of speed, which initiated the pursuit.”
Police confirmed the handgun discarded from the Durango prior to the crash was not used in the McClinton and Taylor shootings.
Arrested in connection with the shootings were Jerron Harris, 25, of Pasadena, and Larry Bishop, 20, of Chino. Both men are gang members, according to police. Harris and Bishop have been charged with murder, attempted murder, being felons in possession of a firearm and two counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling. If convicted, both men could face the death penalty.
Also arrested was Gary A. Davis, 20, of Pasadena. Davis has been charged with being an accessory after the fact for helping Bishop evade police.
Since Christmas, there have been a number of rallies for McClinton, who was well known in Pasadena for his work with local youth. However, no special events have been held for Ong Tan and the Ng family.
Henry, a community activist in Daly City, said she understands the extra attention being afforded to the McClinton case.
“It is important we talk about the violence and what happened that day,” Henry said. “But we can’t overlook this family and what they are going through. Somebody has to come through for them also.”