Murder Mystery in Flushing, NY: Chinese dissident dead

By John Kusumi

Hu Changxin

In this photo, Hu Changxin (Center) is flanked by Isak Baldwin (L) and leading Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng (R)

At the hands of violence, under suspicious circumstances, Hu Changxin was murdered on Saturday, October 23, 2010.

Who is Hu? He might be known as a 42-year-old self-employed immigration specialist; or, he can also be known as a Chinese dissident: a pro-democracy, anti-Communist figure who survived from Tiananmen Square only to perish in Flushing, a section of Queens in New York City.

In the middle of an American rock song (‘Chinese Democracy Defiled’), Hu was the distinctive voice speaking Mandarin. To hear his voice in the song, go to: http://www.chinasupport.net/CSN/music.aspx [The music player requires Microsoft Silverlight, a free download that you may already have.] On that page, click the third song down the list to hear it play.

For the China Support Network and its musicians, we have lost a friend and a campaigner for freedom, democracy, and human rights. Many in the wider community of leading Chinese dissidents are also friends, or known to Hu Changxin.

This matter has also been unsettling to the local community in Flushing, NY, because there may be one or more murderers on the loose, still at large.

The motive remains undetermined, and news reports have contradicted one another, with conjecture and speculation about the motive. Inserted below are five english-language news reports. Note that the Wall Street Journal (3rd article below) offers a totally different (and unsubstantiated) guess about a possible motive.

Associated Press:
2 men die in office fire at NYC building

NEW YORK (AP) – A fire at a Queens office building claimed two lives, a man who was pronounced dead at the scene and another man who died several hours later after being hospitalized.
Authorities were still investigating the cause of the blaze, which broke out shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday at the building on Roosevelt Avenue.
The men were found in a third-floor office. The man pronounced dead on site has been identified as 42-year-old Chang-Xin Hu of Queens.
The second man was taken to Booth Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 8:30 p.m. His identity has not been released.

Gothamist:
Two Dead In Flushing Fire, Cops Suspect Murder-Suicide

Firefighters were called to a building on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, Queens yesterday afternoon to battle a fire that started on the third floor in a private immigration office. But once the fire was put out, police found a man in his 40s with his throat slashed, leading them to suspect arson and possibly a botched murder-suicide. Police pulled a second man from the building, and suspected him of killing the first.
The second man was transported to Booth Memorial Hospital, where he later died. Police suspect the two men got into an argument over paperwork and one slashed the other man’s throat before starting the fire. The Daily News reports that one of the men, though they didn’t specify who, was identified as Chang-Xin Hu, 42, of Flushing. Police are also looking for a third person, who allegedly ran out of the building but alerted the yoga studio on the second floor of the building about the fire.
Queens Assemblywoman Grace Meng said, “We’ve had many horrific crimes this year. It makes the community feel very uneasy,” but many locals say they aren’t surprised. One woman told NY1, “I’ve lived here for 30 years and it’s getting progressively worse…I don’t even come down Roosevelt anymore.”

Wall Street Journal:
Arson Suspected in Fatal Queens Fire

Police have determined that a fatal fire in Queens on Saturday was apparently intentionally set during a murder-suicide that was committed by a 27-year-old man, authorities said Sunday.
Shao-Fan Gong apparently ignited the blaze in a third-floor office of a Flushing building after stabbing Chang-Xin Hu, 42, to death at about 2:50 p.m. Saturday. Mr. Gong also had superficial slash wounds that were apparently self-inflicted, police said. He died later Saturday of smoke inhalation, police said.
Investigators believe the violence was provoked when Mr. Hu rebuffed Mr. Gong’s sexual advances, a law-enforcement official with knowledge of the case said. The official said Mr. Hu had agreed to a sexual encounter with Mr. Gong if he was paid for it but then backed out, apparently angering Mr. Gong. A knife and a lighter believed to have been used in the incident were recovered at the scene, the official said.

NY1 News:
Officials Suspect Arson In Fatal Flushing Fire

Investigators are still looking into what appears to be a case of murder and arson inside a private immigration office in Queens.
Police say two men got into an argument over immigration papers around 2:30 p.m. Saturday inside an office located at 136-79 Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing.
They say Shao-Fan Gong, 27, slashed Chang Xin Hu, 42, in the throat, then started the fire.
Gong was also severely burned and later died at the hospital.
Sources say he may have been trying to commit suicide.
Both men were discovered by firefighters after the flames were extinguished.
“I’ve lived here for 32 years and it’s getting progressively worse and quite frankly I’m the district leader here and I hardly even come down Roosevelt anymore and I wasn’t surprised today when I heard that something happened in the heart of Flushing,” said one neighborhood resident.
“If there is an immigration office up there and somebody was fighting over papers, I could see how tempers would get rised on that,” said another.
The fire marshall is still investigating how the fire was started.

New York Times:
Man Found Dead After Fire in Flushing
By AL BAKER AND REBECCA WHITE

6:23 p.m. | Updated Police have identified the victims as Chang-Xin Hu, 42, and Shao-Fan Gong, 27, both of Queens. Mr. Gong died Saturday night at Booth Memorial Hospital.
Both men were found when firefighters extinguished a blaze on the top floor of a three-story brick commercial building in Flushing, Queens, on Saturday afternoon, the authorities said.
Mr. Hu, who was not immediately identified by name, was found shortly before 3 p.m. inside the third-floor office at 136-79 Roosevelt Avenue, just east of Main Street, said firefighter Richard T. Viglione, a spokesman for the New York Fire Department.
A second man, later identified as Mr. Gong, was listed in critical condition at Booth Memorial Hospital, The Associated Press reported.
It was unclear how the fire began, Mr. Viglione said, but a police official said detectives were investigating the death as a possible homicide.
A caller to 911 reported the fire at 2:34 p.m. Mr. Viglione said it was a one-alarm blaze that was contained to that location. The first companies to arrive included engine companies 273 and 320 and ladder companies 129 and 130. The fire was under control in 29 minutes, or by 3:03 p.m., Mr. Viglione said.
He said the body of the man, who appeared to be in his 40s, was discovered by firefighters were battling the fire. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
The victim “was found as the fire was going on, on the top floor,” Mr. Viglione said.
The police said two men were discovered on the third floor and both were badly burned.
Investigators were searching the building room by room, “just to make sure there were no other victims inside.”
People in the area on Saturday afternoon said they mostly saw smoke, not flames, coming from the roof of the building. They said it did not last long.
“The building was smoking up,” said Jennifer Zhou, 23, who was working at a clothing store across the street at the time of the fire.
Many said they knew that one person had died, and that another had brought to the hospital, and several people said they believed that the two men had been fighting. Ms. Zhou said the police took the body of the dead man from the building.
George Sanchez, 54, a barber who lives in the neighborhood, said he was on his way to work around 3 p.m. when he saw paramedics trying to revive a man on the sidewalk.
Mr. Sanchez said he saw firefighters go into the building and retrieve the body of a second man. That body was “dead, absolutely dead,” he said.
“Six firefighters came rushing down the steps carrying a heavyset dead body,” Mr. Sanchez said. “It looked like his throat might have been slashed and face charred. There was a lot of blood in that area. The firemen went up to him. Something might have been jammed in his neck.”
As dusk arrived on Saturday, the dead man’s body was still visible on a sidewalk, in front of a bank, covered by a white sheet.
Kevin Choi, 40, the owner of a second clothing store across the street, ran outside when he heard the fire trucks arriving.
“I smelled black smoke,” he said. “There was black smoke and a lot of people. Some people said they were fighting.”
Martha Flores-Vazquez, who is the district leader in the area, said she spoke to people in the area who said that the victim was slashed and shot.
“This was a violent act,” Ms. Flores-Vazquez said. “The fire was set to clear the scene of the crime.”

3 responses to “Murder Mystery in Flushing, NY: Chinese dissident dead

  1. boomerangcomesback

    The reports here of what went down are “cartoonish” to say the least. Of course, this story of an important man’s demise will vanish off the news shortly, and the Truth will be erased regarding the circumstances of his death, while a fictional story will be affixed along with a sanitized history of the man and his finest moments…

    It should sicken all who read this “epitaph” that your understanding of his life flashed by in 30 seconds or less. We all should hope and fight for a more fitting legacy of ourselves — and start with getting to the bottom of this man’s story. There is a book, a novel, a screenplay, and a moving movie waiting to be made to celebrate “the Life”.

  2. Thanks for the details

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