Hunter's fiancee says he killed Hmong immigrant in self-defense

Cha Vang was found dead Saturday in the Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife Area in northeastern Wisconsin after a confrontation with another hunter. Associated Press/Coutesty Vang family

WAUSAU, Wis. — A squirrel hunter fatally stabbed a Hmong
immigrant in self-defense after the two argued, and the immigrant
shot him in both hands, the fiancee of a man being questioned in
the case told The Associated Press.

Authorities have released few details about the slaying of
30-year-old Cha Vang of Green Bay, pending formal charges in the
case, but the fiancee of James Nichols said Tuesday that Nichols
had acted in self-defense after being shot in the hands.

``There was a verbal confrontation first,'' Dacia James, 20,
said in a telephone interview from her home in Marinette.

``Jim didn't intend to do this. He wasn't going out hunting for
people. He was hunting for squirrels. He was defending himself,''
she said. ``Jim is not racist at all. He has friends from every
ethnic background he has ever come in contact with.''

Vang's wife has said the victim spoke no English and could not
have provoked an attack.

The stabbing followed an ``accidental meeting'' between Vang and
Nichols at a public hunting area, according to Marinette County
Sheriff Jim Kanikula. Nichols, 28, has not been charged in
connection with the slaying, but was jailed early Saturday on a
probation violation as a felon in possession of a firearm.

Nichols' fiancee said Nichols didn't immediately report the
incident to police because he panicked and was frightened because
he was on probation for burglary.

Marinette County District Attorney Brent DeBord said Wednesday
he was still reviewing police reports and could not say when other
charges might be filed.

``This is a very serious matter and needs to be handled
correctly from the beginning,'' DeBord said.

Vang's death came a little more than two years after Hmong
immigrant Chai Soua Vang, 38, of St. Paul, Minn., killed six white
deer hunters and injured two others in northwestern Wisconsin. He
claimed one of them fired in his direction after they shouted
racial epithets. He is serving multiple life terms.

The two men are not related. Vang is a common name among the
Hmong who have immigrated from Southeast Asia to the Midwest in
large numbers since the end of the Vietnam War.

Even before the 2004 shootings, Hmong hunters claimed they had
been harassed, and others complained that the Hmong hunted on
private property without permission.

According to Nichols' finance, Nichols was hunting squirrels
about 4:30 p.m. Friday when he heard someone come up to him.

``He turns around and tells the guy that he needs to go to a
different spot, not necessarily that he needs to leave the area,
but that he was molesting his hunt and scaring the squirrels
away,'' she said. ``Jim said the guy started talking in gibberish
that he couldn't understand and then fired at him.''

She said Nichols was hit in the right hand and a second shot hit
the little finger on his left hand.

James said she doesn't know whether Nichols fired his gun at
Vang but she was told there was a fight and Vang was stabbed with
the knife Nichols uses to remove the tails from squirrels.

No one answered the phone at Vang's home in Green Bay late
Tuesday afternoon.