Won-Ton Bandits
Part Two


 
By now, young Stuart really seemed wound up in the January 5, 1978, interview with McKenna and Foley at the Hall of Justice. Poring over mug shots, he identified the positions held by the members of the Joe Boy Gang and the parts they played.
He said that 22-year-old Sai Ying Lee; his friend Henry's older brother, "buys his guns from honkies and niggers." He named the older Joe Boy leaders as Gary Pang and Jeung Him Tom and spoke of another violent member, Gan Wah Woo. He reported tidbits like Pak Lin carrying a .32 automatic in a shoulder holster primarily for protection, and also told of David Yu keeping a shotgun under his bed. Shortly after his immigration from Hong Kong, Stuart had gone on a camping trip with the Joe Boys in 1976, where they fired guns. He had seen Gary Pang, Jeung Him Tom and Walter Ang target-practice a fully automatic AR15, but the only weapon they allowed him to shoot was a sawed-off .22 rifle.
Fascinated by his ramblings, McKenna and Foley turned him to specific subjects. They asked about the 4th of July shooting in 1977. Stuart informed them that the newspapers were in error by surmising it had to do with firecracker sales. "The reason why the Joe Boys went to Chinatown." he offered, "was that on Chinese New Year, the Hop Sings chased them through Chinatown, and this time they came back with guns, ready to kick ass."
The more sophisticated investigators couldn't help but glance at one another with Tom Yu's expletive describing Stuart as a "dumb shit" echoing in their minds. They knew better.
He claimed a friend of his saw "the guy with the curly hair" fire the shots on the 4th of July that killed Felix Huey who was a card-carrying Joe Boy. Stuart meant to incriminate Hotdog Louie. Used to such allegations, the cops likewise took that information with a grain of salt, but believed him when he said that the Joe Boys found the incident not only sad, but also embarrassing.
Stuart talked so freely about everything it seemed opportune to ask him what he knew about the Golden Dragon.
He blanched a bit, but went on running at the mouth. He said that the morning before the Golden Dragon, he had driven his car, a silver 1969 Chevy Malibu, to the Daly City apartment of a Joe Boy friend, Peter Cheung. Stuart's group of Joe Boys seemed to gather at Peter's place because he was the only one who had an apartment of his own. The others all lived with their families.
He found Halfbreed with Peter. He left his car there for Chester Yu to check out for him. Chester, the younger brother of twins Tom and Dana, claimed to be good at fixing cars. Stuart was having trouble with his.
Borrowing Chester's auto, Stuart went back home. That evening, he took off for Japantown, looking for the guys. Late that night, he ran into Gan Wah Woo who was with several other people at Korea House. He couldn't remember who was with Gan Wah. Stuart, claiming to be "shitfaced on grass," left Korea House after awhile and went home to bed.
The next day, Sunday, September 5, 1977, he heard about the Golden Dragon on the news.
Tom Yu purportedly called him at home that day and said: "You know what happened. Don't go out. Maybe these people think we did it." Also on that day, another member of the Joe Boy group, Peter Ng (ronounced "ing"), disappeared from San Francisco in the company of two Los Angeles Joe Boys.
"That was suspicious," Stuart related confidentially. Leaning closer to the two policemen and speaking in a very low voice, he added: "You know, Peter Ng did it! Peter Ng did it!"
He began to tremble, and the rest of his words poured out like a flood through a sluice gate: "I think there was four people...three in the restaurant and one driving the car, but I ain't sure. I think that's probably what happened. I don't know, but I think so."
His hands, clasped tightly on the table before him, shook. His eyes twitched back and forth between Foley and McKenna. Beads of sweat formed on his upper lip.
McKenna looked straight at him with a practiced eye. "Did you have anything to do with it, Stuart?"
The boy went into a frenzy of shaking and made the sign of the cross on himself time after time. "Are you crazy? Are you crazy?" he shouted. "I'm gonna be killed for talking to you guys!"
It took several minutes to calm the kid down, so the detectives decided it was about time to conclude the interview. Earlier, Stuart had mentioned a robbery planned by Henry Lee. They changed the subject to that. It relaxed him considerably.
Henry wanted to borrow Stuart's car the next night, a Friday, January 6, 1978, to pull a robbery around midnight at a noodle shop on Kearny Street. That information dispatched McKenna and Foley to the telephone book. Walking their fingers through the Yellow Pages, they found a won-ton shop on Kearny, between Clay and Sacramento Streets.
Stuart asked their advice as to what he ought to do. He was afraid if he gave Henry Lee his car, and Henry got caught, Henry would suspect him of squealing to the cops. Henry wanted to use the vehicle after Stuart got off work at midnight.
McKenna and Foley suggested he not let Henry use the car. "Tell him it broke down, or disconnect the battery, or do something, but just say it's not working."
"Well, if it's still raining, they probably won't pull the job," Stuart observed hopefully.
Henry's plan was to rob the restaurant of its cash, with some other Joe Boys, and escape via Clay Street to the freeway. (The segment of freeway leading directly to Chinatown was destroyed more than a decade later in the disastrous earthquake of 1989 and was never rebuilt).
After they finished talking, Foley took Stuart to work at a Greek restaurant on a corner of Polk at Vallejo. Still nervous in the car, the youngster wanted to know why they had asked him about the Golden Dragon. "We ask everybody about it," Foley explained. "We have to ask anybody who may have information, and, you see, you were able to tell us something." Stuart nodded his understanding. It seemed to calm him.
He confided to Foley that he was worried about being late for his job. Foley smiled. "No problem, Stuart, I'll go in and talk to the owner and tell him I'm a policeman and that you witnessed a hit-and-run accident and got the license number, and we had you come down to the office and give descriptions and all that."
Stuart was happy with the cover story. "Yeah, that's great!"
Before Foley left, he asked Stuart to call him at the office the following Sunday morning. "I'll be coming in around 10. Maybe I'll have some news about the robbery if those guys decide to do it, but don't, under any circumstances at all, let Henry Lee use your car." Stuart promised he wouldn't.
Foley went right back to the office and, with McKenna, wrote up a scratch, or memo, on the interview. They also made a scratch for the Robbery Detail about Henry Lee's plan to rob the won-ton shop.
 

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2000 Brockman Morris