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'She crossed cultures': Death of Ma Kaing leaves Denver neighborhood bereaved

Death of Ma Kaing leaves Denver neighborhood bereaved
Death of Ma Kaing leaves Denver neighborhood bereaved 03:15

Quietly people lit candles for Ma Kaing on Monday night. Gone only a few days, the hole left in this East Denver community is gaping and traumatic. What will they do without Ma? 

Outside Hidden Brook Apartments, they got together  amid their sadness to hold a vigil based around a picnic table.

Ma, a native of Burma, lived at Hidden Brook Apartments on Xenia Street. She would knock on doors and check on people after working long days at her Taw Win restaurant and 11th and Yosemite Street - another neighborhood with crime. 

Ma Kaing CBS

Crime was a part of life, but raising her four children she was a bright spot at Hidden Brook.

"She lights up the room whenever she comes around," said neighbor Tanisha Lintz.

"I feel numb," said a fellow immigrant from Burma.

Ma's voice lilted with sweetness. 

"She'll knock on the door. 'You need anything?' 'No I don't need anything Ma.' 'OK.' Just her voice is so wonderful," said Lintz. 

Often Ma would work in the garden and give people food. 


"She modeled kindness, and her kids as a result of her modeling such kindness are the kindest kids in this neighborhood," said Brandy Kramer of Hope Communities, the nonprofit that runs the apartment complex. "I guarantee you the food that she was out buying that night, half of it was going back to the community. Half of it was going to be food that she prepared and took and delivered to someone."

Gunfire from nearby New Freedom Park came across 13th to where Ma was bringing a load of groceries home late Friday night. Her son was with her. Several people have complained about hang-ups when calling 911 for help. Police and ambulance came too late they claim. The city says it is looking into the response.

Now without insurance, the family is faced with the cost of losing the family breadwinner and much more. Denver too lost a great deal. 

"She crossed cultures. She crossed apartments. She knew everyone that lived in these different apartments and she made sure that if they were struggling their needs were met," said Kramer. "We think oh this only happens in bad neighborhoods to bad people, and I think we've got to get over that hump in this country."  

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