CEDAR RAPIDS — Family members of a Cedar Rapids man accused of trying to kill his neighbors say he snapped after enduring years of racial slurs, broken windows and thrown feces.
“This is the first time he ever went to jail,” said Kathie Pham. “I can’t believe this is happening. It feels like a dream.”
Her father, Joseph Pham, 42, of 2934 29th Ave. SW, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of intimidation with a dangerous weapon.
According to a police complaint, Pham shot at Brian Wilson, his daughter Jayde Wilson and Tracy Moses on Saturday. Brian Wilson, 39, was hit three times and was the only person wounded. Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said Monday that he was still in the hospital, but she didn’t know his condition.
Police said the shooting stemmed from a disagreement between the two men. Pham’s family contends it started years earlier, citing police reports, a restraining order and even a lawsuit as evidence of years of harassment from neighbors, including Wilson and Moses.
Kathie Pham, whose family is of Vietnamese descent, said they had been subjected to racial slurs and statements such as, “Go back to your (expletive) country, you’re not wanted here.”
“It’s hatred. They absolutely hate other people,” she said.
Joseph Pham’s niece, Erika Springer, 18, of Urbana, said she witnessed such treatment as well.
“When they (Brian Wilson and Moses) would have family over or friends, they would also harass my aunt and uncle,” Springer said.
Both Springer and Kathie Pham said Joseph Pham had called the police several times, but the harassment continued.
Pham filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Jamie Moses, Tracy Moses’ ex-husband. He claimed Moses had broken two windows of the Phams’ home, driven his vehicle in their yard and torn up the grass, destroyed their mail, fired a shotgun over their property, contacted DirecTV to cancel their service and thrown feces at Kathie Pham. The lawsuit seeks damages including emotional distress, pain and suffering, property damage, punitive damages and court costs.
Kathie Pham also recalls one incident during a sleepover that resulted in criminal charges.
“At about two in the morning, the window was shot out,” she said. “I got cuts and stuff and (a friend) got bruises on her leg.”
In October 2010, according to court records, Jamie Moses pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal mischief for breaking Kathie Pham’s window that night. He was ordered to pay a $100 fine for the simple misdemeanor.
The judge also filed a no-contact order between Jamie Moses and the Pham family, according to court records. But when Jamie Moses moved out and Brian Wilson moved in, Springer said, the harassment continued.
Springer said Saturday’s incident began when Pham was working outside and Brian Wilson came up to the fence and started making racial slurs. He told Pham to come outside and fight him, Pham’s niece said, and then he went to the front door and started banging on it.
“I guess it escalated from there,” Springer said.
After the shooting, Pham went inside his home because he didn’t know what to do when police arrived, she said.
“He wanted to know what to do because he didn’t want his kids to get hurt,” Springer said. “He called his lawyer to ask him what to do.”
After calling his lawyer, she said, Pham went outside and was arrested.
Springer said her uncle, who was born and raised in Vietnam, just wanted to give his children a better life. The family moved to that neighborhood because it was supposed to be a good area, she said.
“This is not what America is supposed to be like,” she said.[mqMap key="0i3N" width="485" height="420" src="http://www.mapquest.com/embed?icid=mqdist_mb_wp&c=0i3N&maptype=map&zm=15&cr=41.949295753219594,-91.71138959259035&projection=sm&showScale=false"]My New Map[/mqMap]