Long Beach New Year murder mystery

LONG BEACH, Calif. It happened just after midnight on New Year's Day. The family of Vannaly Tim, 24, and her boyfriend Sarith Em say they were having a family gathering when shots rang out in the 1800 block of Gardena Street.

Family members say the couple was peaceful, quiet and shy. They say they can't imagine who would want to hurt them.

Tim leaves behind a 5-year-old son.

"How are we supposed to tell him that his mom and his father figure are not going to be home?" said Sak Thongdy, the victim's cousin.

Tim was found shot near her car. The body of her live-in boyfriend, Sarith Em, was locked in her embrace.

Em was an Army vet who survived tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had just stepped out of the apartment for a smoke. Tim was in her pajamas, and simply went with him to move her car.

"I heard gunshots, it was stupid of me not to come out," said Debi So, Tim's sister.

It was the New Year, so Debi thought nothing of it until she ventured out in the foggy street to look for the couple.

"I saw my sister ... her PJs ... it was pink ... I didn't have my glasses on so I kept going closer and closer. I thought it was just her. I walk and I just saw her on top of her boyfriend. I tried to wake them. I kept screaming for her to wake up [and] she wouldn't wake up," said Debi. "And then I went to Sarith and I was tapping his shoulder going, 'Sarith wake up. You guys are in the middle of the street, you know?'"

Debi says she then looked at the car and saw bullet holes.

Police say there are no gang ties in either family and no sign of a motive.

"That's what we want to find out is whether or not it was a random act, or whether it was an intentional act against one of them or both of them. We just do not really have any idea right now," said Lt. Lloyd Cox, Long Beach Police Department.

"We ask for the public for additional help, to find whoever committed this insensible act," said Sak Thongdy, a cousin of the victim.

As for Tim's son, Adam, the family says they will try to take care of him. They say they will raise him to know how great his mother and her boyfriend were.

If you have any information about the shooting, or if you noticed any suspicious activity in the vicinity of PCH and Cherry Avenue, you are asked to call the police at (562) 570-7244.

Investigators really need your help. They say at this point, they don't even know whether the gunman was in a car or quietly approached on foot.


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