|People present flowers during a memorial at Cypree Community Park in Houston, the United States, Feb. 8, 2014. A candlelight memorial was held here on Saturday in memory of deceased overseas Chinese Maoye Sun and his family. Maoye Sun and his wife and two children were shot dead at home in late January. (Xinhua/Song Qiong)
HOUSTON, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of people on Saturday attended a candlelight vigil in Houston to remember a Chinese family of four who were slain at their home in the U.S. city last week.
Around 500 people, the majority Chinese Americans, converged on a grassy knoll in Houston's northwest suburb of Cypress in memory of 50-year-old Sun Maoye, his wife Xie Mei, 49 -- both naturalized Chinese immigrants -- and their two young sons, identified in local media as Timothy Xie Sun, 9, and Titus Xiao Sun, 7.
The family were found dead at their Cypress home on Jan. 30, all four killed by one or more shots to the head. The local sheriff's office has ruled the case a homicide, though no suspects or motives have yet been established and authorities have made a public plea for information.
The case, cloaked in mystery, has shocked and unnerved the large Chinese community of the fourth U.S. largest city, estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands. Many brought flowers and candles Saturday, while some wept as a moment of silence was observed.
Qiao Fengxiang, a community leader, told Xinhua Houston's Chinese community were shocked by the heinous crime and gravely concerned about public safety. He called on all Chinese Americans to stand up for their rights and interests.
Fan Yong, attending the vigil on behalf of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, said the Consulate has helped contact the murdered family's relatives in China and issued a security caution for the Chinese living in the city.
Russ Stevens, Sun Maoye's supervisor at Cameron International where he'd worked for 13 years, described the analyst as a "problem-solver" and "the sort of guy we could always rely on."
He praised Sun's patience and tolerance, saying: "He was a great learner...an excellent researcher...a truly great guy."
After the hour-long vigil, some walked or drove to the murdered family's house, leaving flowers, candles and teddy bears on the porch, and stood in silence in front of the two-story building.
A neighbor and friend of the family, Annelie Mciver, said the tragedy was unusual in what she believed to be a safe and peaceful neighborhood.
"I feel very sad. It is a big loss for us. We were shocked when we heard of the news," she said. "It was just unbelievable. We were actually going to celebrate the Chinese New Year with them just before that happened."
The sheriff's office has urged anyone who knew the family to come forward to aid the investigation. The Houston Chinese Alliance, a non-profit group, has also launched a donation drive to offer rewards to informants and to help with the travel expenses of the victims' relatives coming to Houston.