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Fort Wayne priest remembers Shane Nguyen: “He would help people with his whole heart”

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with a Fort Wayne priest who said he knew Shane Nguyen, who was recently brutally murdered. He shared his thoughts on Nguyen and what he meant to the community.

NOTE: The details in the original report (link below) are disturbing.

Authorities said 55-year-old Shane Nguyen was murdered.

Cramer and Carreon-Hamilton
Jacob D. Carreon-Hamilton (left), Matthew Cramer (right)

Police said three suspects, 21-year-old Matthew Cramer, 20-year-old Jacob D. Carreon-Hamilton, and 20-year-old Cody Clements are in custody.

Detectives interviewed Carreon-Hamilton, who claimed he didn't know what happened until he was taken to the storage unit. Cramer is currently charged with murder, resisting law enforcement and abuse of a corpse. Carreon-Hamilton is currently charged with resisting law enforcement, assisting a criminal, and abuse of a corpse.

Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with Father Nam Vu, a priest at Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, to learn more about Nguyen.

Father Vu said Nguyen emceed many parish and outside events, and sang during mass, both in Vietnamese and Spanish. Vu added Nguyen also did the same for the Buddhist community.

Nguyen was passionate about helping people of all backgrounds, Father Vu said.

"He was able to bring people together," Father Vu said. "He doesn't distinguish whether that it's a Buddhist or Catholic, that was an Asian or a Black person, or a white person, or a Latino person. He respected them as human beings."

Nguyen was known for his big heart, Father Vu said, and would often go out of his ways to help people in need.

"A man that never learned how to say no. If people came up to him and said I need your help, he would never say no. And he would help them with his whole heart," said Father Vu.

A woman told Fort Wayne's NBC News off camera that Nguyen was very involved with many community service events in Fort Wayne.

"He volunteered a lot of his time," said Diana Tran. "He was the director of the Vietnamese choir at the Vietnamese church downtown. He was the translator and spoke at most weddings and fundraisers, and always, always he sang the national anthem."

Fort Wayne's NBC News also talked with employees at McMahon's in Fort Wayne. Workers said Nguyen owned a food truck business and would often stop at many businesses on Coliseum Boulevard, including their location.

"He's fantastic," said John Ridgway, employee at McMahon's. "There were often times my technicians didn't have money for food. He (Nguyen) carried them until Friday until they got paid. He's just a special person."

"He was just passionate about liberal arts, the band, just a great guy to talk to," said Bubba McMahon, works at McMahon's. "Would brighten your day. Never in a bad mood."

Vu said there is now a void within the Vietnamese and Latino community.

Authorities said there is no evidence that race was a motive in his murder at this point.

"We do have evidence that point us in a different direction than race, and so that's why we can say it's not race related at this point," said Sgt. Jeremy Webb, Fort Wayne Police Department.

Father Vu said he understands that, however, he said he can't neglect the feelings of many in his congregation and within the small and tight-knit Vietnamese community that they are still worried about their safety because of the recent rise of violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the country.

Father Vu said he continues to keep in mind the lessons Nguyen taught him and the community.

"In a divided world and city we live in, he's always trying to unite other people, regardless of class, race, identities, or religion," Father Vu said.

A close-family friend created a GoFundMe to help Nguyen's family. If you'd like to help, please click here.

Leaders within the tight-knit Vietnamese community hosted a prayer for Shane Nguyen at Saint Patrick's Catholic Church on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Author Profile Photo

Louie Tran

Louie Tran is the weekend anchor for Fort Wayne’s NBC at 6 and 11pm and a weekday general assignment reporter. To share story ideas, please email him at ltran@wpta21.com.

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