Gulfport restaurant workers may have been targeted in home invasion

6:06 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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Gulfport, FL -- A young Gulfport couple who were scared out of their wits after they were targets of a violent home invasion are now talking about their frightening ordeal.

Meanwhile, Gulfport Police are looking for three suspects who may have targeted the victims because of where they work: a local Chinese restaurant.

It was a terrifying night for Dong Wang, 23, and his young bride Shu Chen, 22. The couple had just come home from a night of work at their family's Gulfport restaurant, when suddenly a loud noise frightened them.

"Just like a bomb sound, like bam!" said Shu.

Three men came barging into their house, busting the front door frame. The couple locked themselves in a back bedroom and called 911.

There were no demands they say, no yelling. Just the sound of people moving around.

Then they heard the blasts of at least two gunshots. The holes are still visible in the kitchen cabinets.

"We work for it, you know," said Wang, angry someone might try to steal their hard-earned money. "You can't just come in and take stuff."

Wang suspects the three men who broke into their home were after money. He says there's a misguided belief that Asian restaurants are a big cash business, and that can make the workers and owners a target.

"Hopefully it's not linked to the other ones where an Asian restaurant... they'll follow them home," he said.

Gulfport police say the couple may be right about the motive. In 2008, there was a rash of robberies against Asian restaurant workers in Pinellas County. And just a couple of months ago, several more restaurants were targeted in Hillsborough County. But police say those suspects were recently arrested.

"It's common throughout the state," says  Sgt. Tom Woodman with Gulfport Police.

Woodman says it only makes sense to investigate the Asian angle as a possible motive, along with others.

Police say what's even more troubling, is the brazenness in this case, where the suspects come crashing in, and then firing gunshots.

"We're very concerned by that. We want to capture these guys as quickly as possible," said Woodman.

The young couple says they were so frightened, they spent the rest of the night out of the house, sleeping in their car at a nearby rest area.

The suspects, say police, took off on foot, so there's no vehicle description and neighbors offered only a vague physical description.

Still, investigators hope someone out there may hear something about this case, and if so, contact Gulfport Police at (727) 893-1043.

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