WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
On March 22, 2017, a gunman named Nengmy Vang went on a spree shooting in Schofield and Rothschild, Wisconsin. He had gotten into an argument with his wife, so he went to the bank where she worked and killed 2 employees. He then shot his wife's lawyer and a police officer.
He started at the Marathon Savings Bank, and then moved to the Law officers of Tlusty, Kennedy & Dirks, and then headed back to their apartment.
He was shot after a 3-hour standoff and died. The shooting resulted in "Sara's Law", named after one of the victims, the lawyer, that makes it a "felony to harm or threaten a lawyer, corporation counsel, or guardian ad item for work on a family law case".
THE VANG'S TROUBLED MARRIAGE
Nengmy Vang had been married to his wife, Naly, for over 25 years, but the relationship had seen its fair share of arguments during that time. They met when she was 16 and he was 20. The couple didn't go on many dates, and didn't spend much time getting to know one another. But their families both approved their marriage. (2)
They married when she was 17, and she had the first of their 7 children immediately after. At the time of the crime, their oldest was 23 years old, their youngest only 15 months old. Two were married and on their own, and 5 still lived at home. (2)
She graduated from UW-Stevens Point with a degree in biology with a dream to go into the medical research field. That is how she spent the first few years of marriage: At home, and at school. Though the marriage wasn't great, it wasn't bad either. They both worked, and she cared for the children. And while she was caring for their children, he began developing hobbies such as hunting, fishing and photography. (2)
Nengmy began drinking and spending more time away from home around 2007. He spent time at parties where he danced with other women, and his phone records showed many calls to and from different women. He was also in legal trouble due to unpaid credit card balances.
Naly tried to rein in her husband's spending, but to no avail. Her confrontations to him became violent, once in 2008 resulting in an arrest after she broke several items when she asked him about a suspected affair. She did not serve any time.
Nengmy was also emotionally abusive towards his wife. She had confided in Mao Khang, a social worker at a domestic violence organization. He demeaned her and controlled small things in her life, like how late she stayed up. He said women were like cars, you get a new one when the one you've used for awhile is worn out. (2)
He moved out in 2015 and filed for divorce, but his hopes for a quick settlement were not met. Naly wanted to go through the court system, believing that it would give her a better shot of receiving custody, and Nengmy getting mandated child support payments.
During this period of separation, Naly believed Nengmy was having a relationship with a woman in Laos, and he told her he planned to move there after cashing out his assets. At this point, he began to go "crazy", according to his brother, going so far as to hit his mother during an argument. Police were dispatched to the Vang home 5 times in the latter half of 2015, but no arrests were ever made. He promised that something bad would happen if Naly requested alimony payments.
THE MURDER SPREE
On March 22, 2017, Nengmy called his wife, threatening to kill her if she did not sign divorce papers within 24 hours. After hanging up, he went to the bank and asked her again to sign the papers, asking her "Do you want to die now?" before leaving the bank for his car. Naly knew that he kept a gun in his car, and she ran, fearing for her life. She called the police from a nearby Subway to report the confrontation at the bank. By then, he had already went inside with a black bag containing his gun, shooting and killing bank employees Dianne Look and Karen Barclay.
"We were like sisters, or they were like mothers to me," Naly said of Dianne and Karen. Their branch was small and they became close, working together for years before they were killed. Look would bring food into the bank's freezer and would share leftovers with Naly. Barclay would cover for her if she returned from her lunch break without having eaten because she was spent that time running errands with the kids. (2)
When she was pregnant, she was extremely attentive, providing anything the baby might need. They had offered to take her to the hospital for the birth of her 7th child because of the contention between she and Nengmy. (2)
With 2 bank tellers, 2 extremely close friends of his wife, dead, he drove off to the law offices of Tlusty, Kennedy & Dirks, where Sara Quirt Sann, Naly's attorney, worked. He was able to get into her office after holding 2 people at gunpoint. Once inside, he confronted her and killed her.
He returned to his home, the police now onto him and knowing what he had done. They created a perimeter around the apartment, but Vang shot out of his apartment, and killed Detective Jason Weiland. This lead to a 3 hour standoff. Vang called 911 twice during the standoff, saying he regretted the murders and asking for reporters to come to the scene so he could explain himself.
Police turned off the power in his apartment and tore down an exterior wall, and Vang fired a warning shot. This drove an officer to fire more than 20 rounds into his apartment. He was wounded, and later died at the local hospital.
In the days after the killings, Vang was in shock. She attended the funeral for Dianne Look, invited by her husband, Bob. He had become extremely close, even protective, over Naly, understanding the struggles in her relationship and his wife's love for her. He did not want her to feel any responsibility for what her husband had done.
When he met Dianne, she was living in a trailer trying to raise her 2 children from a previous marriage on food stamps and part time work. He knew that his wife's history is why she cared so much for Naly. He told her that his wife loved her, and he loved her, and that he did not blame her for the death of his wife of over 25 years.
She also attended Karen's funeral with Khang from the DV center. She was given hugs and words of encouragement.
She received a lot of love and support from her community and family, but many people close to her did not understand the abuse in their relationship and were still mourning the loss of Nengmy, which made things difficult.
Naly was technically his widow, as they were still married during the time of the shootings, so she was obligated to prepare his funeral. She planned it for April 22 and honored the tradition of preparing her husband for his "journey into the next spiritual world". She attended the funeral and sat near his body. Though it was extremely difficult to prepare for and mourn at the funeral of a man who had killed 2 close friends, a police officer and her lawyer while trying to kill her, she said she had to be there for her children.
Her older children have stepped up to help out with the younger ones, and though she worries about the future, she is trying to take things day by day.
It has been 3 years since that day, and though I was unable to find any stories that caught up with Naly now, her outlook just months after the murders was very positive and optimistic, and the support she was receiving seemed like enough to make it through.