Crime and Courts

City Heights community mourns beloved woman killed in seemingly random stabbing

“She was such a kind lady. Everybody loved her”

NBC Universal, Inc.

NBC 7’s Allison Ash provides a follow-up with the family of the 65-year-old grandma who was fatally stabbed at the Central Avenue Mini Park Monday morning.

Chi Cao was a familiar face in her City Heights neighborhood. She was often seen walking or riding her bike along Central Avenue, and exercising at the Central Avenue Mini Park just blocks from the house where she lived with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

In fact, Cao was doing her morning exercises at the park Monday morning when a man she didn’t know attacked her in what police said may have been a random attack. Cao did not survive. 

Later that day, San Diego police arrested 23-year-old Silveinusi Hamala at his family’s home a few blocks away. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

Cao collected cans so she could earn money recycling them, and, her family told NBC 7, the money she earned was then sent to her daughter and grandson still living in Vietnam.

The 65-year-old woman, who suffered multiple stab wounds, was attacked while she exercised at Central Avenue Mini Park in City Heights.

Cao left Vietnam eight years ago in search of a better life for her family, said a tearful granddaughter Zillyan Tran. 

Tran was surrounded by the rest of her family when she spoke to NBC 7 lovingly about her grandmother.  “She was such a kind lady. Everybody loved her.”

“I hope he suffers the worst punishment possible for what he did to our family, what he took from us,” Tran said.

Cao was a true patriot, her family told NBC7. When she arrived in the U.S., she began studying to pass the naturalization test to become a U.S. citizen.

“She was so proud, and all of us were so proud because she worked so hard,” Tran said. "She went to the school every day many, many hours to study for that test, and when she passed it, we were all full of joy.”

Silveinusi Hamala. Photo courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff's Department.

That joy has now turned to heartache as the family prepares to bury Cao. They hope to be able to follow through on Cao’s dream of bringing her other daughter and grandson to the U.S. from Vietnam.

“She loved her family a lot," Tran said. "She sacrificed all for her family.”

Cao's alleged attacker, Hamala, has a criminal record out of Maricopa County, Arizona, that includes convictions for domestic violence, disorderly conduct and more. The San Diego County Jail website lists an outstanding warrant for Hamala’s arrest, but NBC 7 has so far been unable to find out what the warrant is for.

Hamala is due in court for an arraignment on June 22.

A vigil for Cao will be held Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Central Avenue Mini Park.

Exit mobile version