Three children – ages 1, 5, and 12 – were stabbed to death and two other people were wounded in an attack in a Burmese community in eastern North Carolina, police said Wednesday.
The suspect, 18-year-old Eh Lar Doh Htoo, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and other charges are expected. Htoo knew the victims but they weren’t related, New Bern police Lt. Ronda Allen said. A language barrier was affecting the investigation, she said.
Police did not release the victims’ names or a possible motive.
Htoo was expected to appear in court in New Bern on Thursday. Police said they did not know whether Htoo had an attorney yet.
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About 11 p.m. Tuesday, officers were called to a report of a person with a knife, Allen said. The officers entered the home and found the injured and two of the dead children. A third child died at a hospital, Allen said.
The wounded were another juvenile and an adult, Allen said. They were treated and released from a hospital.
New Bern is a picturesque town of 30,000 on the water near the coast and is home to about 1,900 Burmese refugees.
Susan Husson, executive director of the Interfaith Refugee Ministry in New Bern, said the victims’ family and the suspect’s family likely came through her office before settling in New Bern, but she didn’t know them personally.
“It’s just really hard right now,” she said. “It’s been really horrific.”
She said the first Burmese refugee came to New Bern around 1999. The stabbings happened on a street of about 10 homes that face a railroad track and several dilapidated commercial buildings.
A neighbor who lives about five houses away said he heard sirens late Tuesday night and decided to stay inside.
“We were scared. We just locked the door,” said 23-year-old Yyoch Rmah, who moved to the U.S. from Vietnam in 2006.
He said there were a lot of Burmese refugees in the neighborhood, and people from other countries.
“People keep to themselves,” he said.
Associated Press writers Martha Waggoner and Michael Biesecker in Raleigh contributed to this report.