Fourth of July shooting victim asking about family

Brandon Yam, the father of four who was struck by a stray bullet on the Fourth of July in Charlotte, may be confused about what city he’s in. He may have difficulty moving his extremities and speaking. Yet some of the few words he has spoken have been to inquire about the well-being of his family.

“He remembers the 7-month-old. This morning he woke up, ‘Where’s the baby?’ ” Chenda Yam Wilson, Yam’s sister, said. “He asked about the baby.”

Yam remains in the intensive care unit at Carolinas Medical Center. When doctors asked where he was, Yam said he thought he was in Atlanta, Wilson said. When they asked him if he knows what happened to him, Wilson said he responded, “It’s just an unfortunate thing that happened to me. I don’t want to talk about it.”

The family pleaded during a news conference Tuesday for the public’s help to provide any information about who shot the gun that partially paralyzed Yam. At the very least, they said, they want details on the type of bullet still lodged in Yam’s head.

“For right now, it’s not safe to remove the bullet and they say if the bullet is not causing any problems right now it’s going to stay there,” Wilson said.

Yam, 47, was selling food and drinks with his wife and two of his children at a festival celebrating the opening of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple, at 219 Owen Blvd. in Charlotte.

About 9 p.m., as people at the temple started shooting off fireworks, Yam started to pack up his supplies to go home, his family said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police reports indicate that around 9:25 p.m., Yam was struck “in the top of the head by a stray bullet.”

Sopheap Kim said she was standing with her husband when he suddenly fell down and she saw blood coming out of his head.

“I saw my husband fall down and I didn’t know what to do about it,” she said. “He said, ‘Please help me. Please help me please.’ It’s unbelievable.”

Wilson said her family has been frustrated with how police have handled the investigation, noting that they haven’t updated the family much at all about the shooting.

“I’m angry that nobody knows how it happened,” Wilson, her voice cracking, said. “We know it’s a gunshot, we know it’s a stray bullet from somewhere but we don’t know who did it or why he did it. That’s just up in the air. That’s what I want to find out.”

Police could not be reached for comment.

Wilson’s husband, Charlie Wilson, said the family wants closure. And help.

The family has set up a donation account with Wells Fargo Bank. Residents can go into any bank branch and request to donate money to the Brandon Yam fund.

Both Yam and Kim are unemployed, Charlie Wilson said. Yam was recently approved for Medicaid.

“And also we need all the prayers. We need all the prayers for Brandon for a full recovery, Chenda Wilson, starting to cry, said. “I just pray he can pick up his son and hold his son.”

Chenda Wilson said she hopes that when Yam’s condition improves that the family can take him back to Atlanta where his brothers and sisters live. Chenda Wilson works in Atlanta at Shepherd Center, a nonprofit specialty hospital for spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.