Tim Simmons first met Michael "Hotdog" Louie in November of 1972, not long after the Farallones escapade. He went to Chinatown with Diarmuid Philpott and George Huegle, two experts on the Asian community's affairs, to investigate reports that a Wah Ching faction had made extortion attempts on a small, family-run restaurant at Jackson and Kearny.
As usual in Chinatown, the restaurant owners were scared to death of the kids and had already advised the police they would not testify against them in court. Still, the owners wanted some help in abating the problem. So Simmons, Philpott and Huegle decided to use a technique which had worked in a few such cases. They had asked the people to call them when the kids came in again.
The officers entered the restaurant and sat down. Philpott pointed out Hotdog to Simmons.
"He just got out of the California Youth Authority," Philpott said quietly. "He's about 16 years old and headed for the big time, we reckon. They call him 'Hotdog' on the street."
Simmons glanced at the boy. The kid's sedentary position couldn't hide the fact that he was a little guy, but he looked tough. Anybody could see that his body packed a lot of power into a small frame. His face was round and grimly set in an expression making him look older than his years, despite unruly curls of black hair, cowlicked like an urchin's.
Hotdog was eating with a couple of his gang buddies. Their standard procedure involved finishing the meal and walking out without paying the bill, sometimes adding insult to injury by stopping off at the cashier to demand some money on the side for "protection" from other kids like themselves.
The cops waited till the boys laid down their chopsticks as though to leave. Then they got up from their own table and walked over to the kids in a group, smiling cordially.
"Say, fellows," Philpott said, "be sure to pay your bill before you go. Pretty good food, eh? Next time you come back, we'll probably be eating here, too. We like this place."
"Glad to see you're out of the California Youth Authority, Michael," Simmons chimed in. "Bet you don't want to go back there, do you? There's one way to stay out. Keep away from the gangs."
The extortion attempts in that restaurant ground to a halt, but advising Hotdog Louie to stay out of trouble was an exercise in futility.
Simmons ran into the boy again a few months later, in January 1973, after an incident at the Sun Sing Theater on Grant Avenue near Jackson. The theater, when the stage was not occupied by visiting Chinese opera companies or other live productions, specialized in movies from Taiwan, with dialogue in Mandarin. There were also movies from Hong Kong, usually with dialogue in Cantonese. Nearly all were sub-titled because, although the spoken languages are dissimilar, they share a written form--a similarity carried over into Japanese, wherein thousands of Chinese ideographs are used in writing, but are spoken differently.
You Sheon Lim, a man in his early 40's, sometimes served as ticket-taker at the Sun Sing, a known hangout for the Wah Ching Gang. Apparently he received no wages for this duty, but was allowed to see the movies for free, in exchange. He had a particular dislike for the Wah Ching, who had attempted to take money from him on several occasions. The fact that they entered the theater without paying upset him further, an understandable complaint since he was himself required to earn that privilege by taking the tickets.
On January 20th, You Sheon Lim vocalized his outrage to a group of Wah Ching, whereupon the teen-agers brutally assaulted him with fists and feet in the finest kung fu tradition. Among the boys were the Wah Ching leader at the time, Anton Wong, and two of his top lieutenants, Jerry and John Leng, along with other members Sing Lee Chan, Hotdog, George Dea and Harry Tang.
They almost beat and kicked You Sheon Lim to death. There were still bumps and bruises all over his body when Simmons first saw him while police photographers were taking pictures of the victim at the Hall of Justice just after he got out of the hospital.
The Wah Ching perpetrators thought little would be made of this case because police were then relying on them heavily for testimony in trials against the Chung Ching Yee, or Joe Boys, who had tried to kill them on an earlier occasion.
This cooperation notwithstanding, the police obtained warrants of arrest for Anton Wong, John and Jerry Leng and Sing Lee Chan for their assault of the ticket-taker at the Sun Sing Theater. As could be imagined, the boys were highly upset when placed under arrest immediately after their testimony helped convict four of the offending Joe Boys.
Although a participant in that beating, Hotdog was not among those held in the case. He already was in custody--with George Dea and Harry Tang--for yet another assault unrelated to the one on You Sheon Lim.
Hotdog and his friends were detained at the Log Cabin Ranch, a minimum-security youth-detention facility at La Honda near San Francisco. They didn't care much for the woodsy charm of Log Cabin and eventually contrived escape before they could be brought to trial.
Still, their time at the ranch did serve some purpose. Prior to the escape, they were interviewed by policemen Simmons, Philpott, Huegle, Russ Algrim and Don Hansen. Admitting their participation in the assault on You Sheon Lim, the boys then testified before a Grand Jury, implicating the other Wah Ching, who would be left behind to face the music. Fortunately for the future escapees, gang kids in general understood the need they all had to give up personal integrity once in awhile.
The police felt that a hiding place had to be found for victim You Sheon Lim to insure that he would be alive when his assault case finally came up for trial. After all the warrants were served and the arrests of Anton Wong, the Leng brothers and Sing Lee Chan were accomplished, Simmons and his cohorts sought the aid of the California Department of Justice. Justice agreed to help pay for hiding the victim in an area outside San Francisco. Simmons was assigned to locate a suitably remote place where the ticket taker would be safe. Thereafter, for several months You Sheon Lim vacationed at a motel deep in the glades of Marin County.
Some weeks after Hotdog and company escaped from the ranch, Simmons was rattling around Chinatown trying to get information on where they were. He saw a Wah Ching who owed him a favor and approached him. Simmons figured the boy had inside information anyway. He took the kid to Chinatown's police facility, Central Station, for an interview.
It was never a good idea to conduct such business in the street where anyone could see and suspect what might really be going on. Foolproof procedure called for stopping the subject abruptly, maybe giving him a quick frisk for hidden weapons, and carting him away to the station--nothing out of the ordinary in Chinatown. At least it put observers off the scent.
Simmons' intuition again served him well.
"Yes, sir, I know where two of them are," the boy told him. "They're down the Peninsula in Sunnyvale, staying at an apartment with some other guys."
"A Wah Ching 'safe'house?" asked the cop.
"Yes, sir," the kid replied. "I don't know the address, but I can show you where it is."
Simmons contacted the Sunnyvale Police Department, an area outside San Francisco's jurisdiction. The youth accompanied him and Inspectors Algrim and Hansen, of the General Works Detail, to the community in the heart of Silicon Valley, the world-famous computer manufacturing center. After about two hours of searching, he finally pointed out the site to the police.
The officers surrounded the apartment. Someone inside pulled back a curtain, and, with no fuss at all, out the back door came Harry Tang and Hotdog Louie. Simmons discovered later that escape arrangements from the Log Cabin had been made by Anton Wong. The third fugitive, George Dea, had, for reasons unknown, been sent to Las Vegas. The police managed to keep a fairly high bail on Anton Wong, the Leng brothers and Sing Lee Chan in the Sun Sing Theater assault case, but during the time the three main witnesses were in a state of escape from the Log Cabin, the trial was postponed until they could be found. The four defendants meanwhile were allowed out by a judge who generously lowered their bail.
Shortly afterward, Anton Wong, perhaps hoping that the wheel of fortune had spun in his favor, threw a big banquet at the Asia Garden Restaurant on Pacific Avenue, to honor himself and his three co-defendants. All the senior echelon of the Wah Ching were there, including the defense attorneys.
An informant was to tell police later that the ever watchful Joe Boys got wind of this affair. A hastily called powwow led to a decision to invade the premises of Asia Garden and wipe out the Wah Ching once and for all. It didn't matter that there would be other diners in the restaurant besides the enemy gang. That was a chance worth taking.
One Joe Boy was given the responsibility of transporting the arsenal of weapons to be used in the slaughter. En route, he got into a traffic accident brought on by a case of unsteady nerves. The treacherous plan had to be aborted. The gang kids were brave and would take on the world--but only as long as they had guns in their hands.
Anton Wong's wheel of fortune had few turns left to make anyway. In the judge's chambers, Simmons had officially protested the reduction in bail for You Sheon Lim's assailants. One of his main points was that if Anton and his co-defendants were turned loose, they would face extreme danger. The unwitting judge, showing no grasp of the situation in Chinatown, drastically reduced the bail in spite of this and other arguments. On May 25, 1973, Anton Wong, while free on this bail, was gunned down and killed by Joe Fong's younger brother.
Eventually the Leng brothers and Sing Lee Chan were brought to trial. The Lengs were convicted, but Chan was acquitted when the jury believed his story that he was not present during the incident. Later it was discovered that he had indeed told the truth. Not he, but a look-alike, had participated in the fracas. Hotdog Louie and Harry Tang testified in the trial along with the victim You Sheon Lim and another Sun Sing Theater employee. Hotdog was sent back to the California Youth Authority for his participation in the aggravated assault of You Sheon Lim. Less relaxed than the Log Cabin Ranch, the C.Y.A. afforded the young gangster no further opportunity for escape.