Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: I believe it was 1994 when a man in North Highlands accidentally shot his niece or daughter, then fled to Mexico. I don't remember many details, but was he ever found, or did he finally turn himself in?
Submitted by: Bebe, Elk Grove
ANSWER: Three-year-old Jamie Vongvilay was fatally shot Sept. 6, 1997, when a gun her uncle had purchased that day at a Reno gun show discharged, striking her in the chest.
The shooting occurred in the family home in the 3700 block of Myrtle Avenue in North Highlands. According to stories in The Bee, Long Luangrath, 19, was showing his brother-in-law his new handgun. When cautioned about handling it, he removed the magazine from the firearm and pulled the trigger to show it was safe.
But a bullet was in the chamber, and the gun discharged as the child approached to see what her uncle had.
Luangrath, a parolee, fled before sheriff's deputies arrived. Investigators said at the time that although the shooting appeared to be accidental, Luangrath faced a felony charge of illegal possession of a firearm.
Luangrath confessed to the shooting five days later. According to Sacramento Superior Court online records, he pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced in March 1998 to four years in state prison.
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