The following is a chapter from the book “List of Twelve: 12 Terrifying True Crime Murder Cases (Vol 4)”
Jiverly Antares Wong
Jiverly Antares Wong sat quietly as he waited for his number to be called at the Binghamton American Civic Association in New York. He was there to apply for benefits, as he was recently laid off from his job at the Shop-Vac Factory, which was closing its plant in Binghamton.
In South Vietnam, Wong could barely speak English even though he had been living in the United States for almost ten years.
His number was finally called, and Wong walked up to the window of the benefits representative. Seeing that Wong was having a difficult time expressing himself in English, she gave him a phone number that assisted Chinese and Japanese speakers. Wong became insulted and told her that he was Vietnamese and stormed out of the building.
What that representative did not know was that Wong would come back and catapult the Binghamton American Civic Center into international news as the site of a mass shooting.
Resistant to Change
Wong was born on December 8th, 1967. He was the second oldest of four children. His family moved to the United States from Vietnam in July 1990, when he was 22. They were able to come to America because of their refugee status. He became an American citizen in November 1995.
While the rest of his family were able to integrate into American society, Wong did not. Among the things that frustrated him was finding work and the language barrier; he did not want to learn to speak English. Because of this, he found his employment opportunities limited.
Of Pride, Secrecy, and Conspiracies
After gaining citizenship, the family moved to Ontario, Canada, where they lived for a few years before moving to upstate New York. Wong moved to Inglewood, California in 2000. He believed he would feel more at home in the Los Angeles area because of its Korean community. Over the next 20 years, he would frequently move between Los Angeles and New York.
He rented a studio apartment close to Los Angeles Airport. His only window offered a view of a brick wall. For seven years, he lived there and worked for a company that made sushi, earning $9.00 an hour. He led a quiet life and did not socialize, as he was an introvert and very secretive, so secretive that he got married and did not tell his family. The marriage lasted seven years.
There were two things that Wong had strong feelings about: making his parents proud, and guns. Because of his culture, he grew up believing that he needed to be able to provide for his parents and family, even though they lived in New York. The pressure he was facing was because his parents and siblings were more successful than he was. They had assimilated into their community and could speak English reasonably well.
He struggled with his English and could barely support himself; he had been arrested for passing a bad check. He also had an encounter with the police when he experienced a minor traffic accident. From these two incidents, Wong developed a paranoia about the police, believing they were conspiring to get him.
Struggling to make it in Los Angeles, Wong decided to move back to Binghamton and live with his parents.
The Wong family lived in a single-family home, located in Union. It was a modest house that was home to his parents, his sister, and his niece, who was just an infant.
Wong found work at the Shop-Vac Factory in the village of Endicott. Though he had a job, he continued to struggle when trying to communicate with others, causing continuing frustration for him. His way of relieving stress was to go to the gun range and practice shooting; he would spend hours there. He became a skilled shooter and was able to hit a target 50-feet away. His weapon of choice was a semiautomatic Beretta pistol with a laser sight.
The Bottom Drops Out
In 2008, the U.S. economy faced its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Shop-Vac closed its factory, and Wong, along with his co-workers, was laid off.
Binghamton’s American Civic Association (ACA) offers a wide range of services to the local immigrant community. It assists immigrants in attaining citizenship, as well as offering classes for learning English and cultural support.
While searching for employment, Wong went to ACA to apply for unemployment benefits. They recommended he take their course to learn English. Wong agreed and attended classes, but he did not speak to anyone.
Wong continued to struggle to find work. He was making it on $200 a week, which came from his unemployment benefits. On April 2nd, 2009, Wong went to the ACA to renew his benefits. When the representative advised him of the phone number for Chinese and Japanese speakers, he grew irate. He was Vietnamese. He was 42 and living with his parents when he should have been supporting them. He stormed out of the building.
Friday, April 3rd, 2009, Wong had an appointment at an employment center, where a counselor was working with him to find a job. Wong did not attend his appointment; he was too frustrated. Wong had other plans. Instead, he got his two Beretta pistols, a bulletproof vest, and drove back to the ACA, arriving around 10:30 a.m.
He pulled up to the rear of the building and parked in front of the rear entrance to create a barricade. He then exited his car and walked to the front entrance. Wong entered the building and, without a word, began shooting. He fired at anyone he saw. His first targets were two receptionists.
One receptionist was shot in the head, and the second one was shot in the abdomen. She played dead as she fell under her desk. She had the foresight to call 911. 61-year-old receptionist, Shirley DeLucia, remained on the line as she kept the 911 operator informed of what was happening as they waited for the police to arrive.
Wong continued to move around the building as he made his way to the classrooms where they taught English. He filled the classroom with gunfire as he relentlessly fired off shots. There was not one person in the classroom who was not hit. Some people avoided Wong’s detection and hid in the basement. When he heard sirens approaching, Wong killed himself.
In three minutes, he had fired off 99 rounds. 13 people were killed, excluding Wong, while four others were injured.