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Fort Wayne man remembers Shane Nguyen: “He wanted others like him to experience the American dream”

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - A Fort Wayne man shared his thoughts on Shane Nguyen, who was brutally murdered, with Fort Wayne's NBC News. He said Nguyen became a bridge, helping many in the tight-knit Vietnamese community adapt to Fort Wayne.

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.

According to court documents, 21-year-old Matthew Cramer and 20-year-old Jacob Carreon-Hamilton are scheduled to appear before a judge on Tuesday at 8 a.m. for their initial hearing.

Fort Wayne's NBC News stopped by Banh Mi Barista, a well-known Vietnamese restaurant located at 5320 Coldwater Road in Fort Wayne, to talk with the owner.

Will Le, the owner of the restaurant, said he has known Shane Nguyen for more than two decades. He said Nguyen was his mentor, and a close-family friend.

Le said Nguyen owned a food truck business and would often give him professional and personal advice. Nguyen wanted him to succeed with his restaurant business, Le added.

Nguyen was also the emcee at Le's wedding, Le mentioned. He said Nguyen helped introduce many family members at the wedding, and made sure everyone was included, and enjoyed the special day.

"His advice to me was very valuable," Le said. "That helped me boost my confidence, and everything I do now. It helped out a lot."

Le said Nguyen's guidance was not only valuable to him, but to many in the close-knit Vietnamese community in Fort Wayne, especially members who came to The Fort searching for a better life. He said many members did not speak fluent English then, however, he added Nguyen stepped in and helped. Whether it was a citizenship test, a court appearance, or a doctor appointment, Le said, Nguyen would often translate to help many in the Vietnamese community adjust to the American culture.

"When you go to another country, you don't speak the language," Le shared. "You can't do anything. But having him around to be able to translate and get you the daily basic needs. That helped out a lot. He had a big impact on the community because we don't have a big community here. But people like him, there's not many around. We definitely miss him."

Fort Wayne's NBC News also talked with Le's uncle, Bryan Hewston, who is also Vietnamese American.

"For him to mentor someone through their citizenship, he didn't just help them, he made them understand the questions, made them understand the answers, made them understand what it was to be part of this country," said Hewston.

Hewston said he had similar feelings as his nephew. He added Nguyen wanted others like him to understand why he fell in love with Fort Wayne and the American culture.

"He changed people's lives for the positive, for a better place," added Hewston. "He wanted them to experience the American dream that he was having."

Le told Fort Wayne's NBC News that Nguyen was an impactful leader within the Vietnamese community in Fort Wayne. He said many are still mourning, however, Nguyen's lessons continue to live on, helping many to be strong.

"He's not here physically, but he sure will be with me forever," Le said.

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

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

Close friends with Shane Nguyen's children also shared their thoughts and memories of Nguyen with Fort Wayne's NBC News.

"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, who said he saw Shane Nguyen as a father figure.

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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

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