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Fort Wayne brothers remember Shane Nguyen: “He was a father figure to us”

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with two Fort Wayne brothers. They shared their memories and thoughts about Shane Nguyen, and what he meant to the tight-knit Vietnamese 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.

Authorities said there is no evidence that race was a motive in Nguyen's 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.

Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with two brothers within the tight-knit Vietnamese community in Fort Wayne on Wednesday to learn more about Shane Nguyen.

Brandon Nguyen said he became friends with Shane Nguyen's children when he was four years old.

Brandon said he and his brother did not have a father growing up, however, Shane Nguyen stepped in, and took care of them like they were his own children.

"Being so young. Being able to meet somebody who was willing to just take care of me as a dad, really made me feel like I wasn't very much different from anyone else," said Brandon Nguyen.

Brandon said Nguyen would often give him advice, make food for him, teach him life lessons, and give him emotional support growing up.

"He gave me the life lessons I needed. He fed me food whenever I was at his house. He would just talk to me, and give me hugs. Give me traditional Vietnamese stuff during new years," said Brandon Nguyen. "Visit every one of my birthdays. He would always be there."

Brandon's older brother Ryan said he has similar feelings about Shane Nguyen as his younger brother.

Nguyen took care of him and his brother, Ryan Nguyen said, and he also took care of many people within the Vietnamese community.

"Shane was a very caring and kind man," Ryan Nguyen said. "He wanted nothing more than just to have everyone around him be happy."

Ryan added Shane Nguyen was not only kind and caring, but he was very talented. Shane Nguyen would often sing at several Vietnamese events inside and outside the Catholic parish, Ryan said, and his energy was contagious. He made people want to be around him, Ryan shared.

"He was the life of our community," said Ryan Nguyen. "He truly stood up for what he believed in, and that was we are all humans. We all have hearts. We can love one another, no matter what."

Fort Wayne's NBC News also talked with Hai Nguyen, who said he also met Shane Nguyen through his children. Hai said Nguyen became a mentor to him early in his childhood, and would frequently check on him, and ask him questions about his life.

"Every time I would visit, he would check up on me," said Hai Nguyen. "He would question me. Like how are your grades? What are you doing in life? He would teach me a little about some relationship things. But the main factor is, he would check up and ask why I did certain things. He would expand onto that. What my actions were. How that affects me or what I could do in my future with that. He would guide me... That mentor made me who I am to this day."

Tony Tran also shared his thoughts with Fort Wayne's NBC News about Shane Nguyen.

Tran said he met Nguyen at Saint Patrick's Catholic Church when he was a child. Nguyen would mentor him and many children at the parish, Tran said.

"I wasn't afraid to ask him about stuff I would not tell my parents. I just asked him," said Tony Tran. "He would just give me some advice. And either I take it or I don't. He's a big influencer. He influenced everybody. From the church to the temple, he just helps everybody."

Tony Tran added Shane Nguyen treated people "with joy. A lot of joy. He did not distinguish anybody any different he would to himself. He enjoyed life. And he wanted to show everyone he enjoyed life, and spread that happiness to everybody."

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

"Thank you for everything you've (Shane Nguyen) done," Ryan Nguyen said. "Not just for me. But for the community, and for the people."

Brandon Nguyen added, "Shane was the biggest impact in my life. He was such a great person. And I really miss him."

Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with a Fort Wayne priest on Tuesday to learn more about Nguyen's impact within the community. Workers at McMahon's also shared their thoughts on Nguyen's food truck business, and how he would often look out for their workers.

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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