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Family, friends gather at memorial for Tou Ger Xiong

Friends, family and the community mourn Tou Ger Xiong
Friends, family and the community mourn Tou Ger Xiong 01:54

MINNEAPOLIS — A beloved Minnesota comedian's life will be honored during a three-day memorial service that begins on Saturday.

"It's so hard for us because when we look at him, we want to cry because we miss him so much, but I know that in Tou Ger's spirit, he would say 'smile at me," said Tou Ger Xiong's sister-in-law, Dr. Pangjua Xiong. "I know that if Tou Ger were here right now, he would actually say 'pray for me,' because he is going on his final trip."  

Tou Ger Xiong was a well known artist known for sharing his personal story to bridge cultures. Born in Laos in 1973, his family fled to the United States when he was a young boy.

"Tou Ger was a treasure. Tou Ger embodied what we would like to think, we are the best of what we are," said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.  

Xiong was kidnapped and killed in Colombia last month after he was held for ransom. He arrived in Medellín on Nov. 29 and was found dead 12 days later in the Robledo area after going out to meet a woman he met on social media. 

Colombian officials say that his captors demanded thousands of dollars from Xiong's family, and despite immediate payment, he was taken to a wooded area where he was killed.

RELATED: Friends and family remember a comedian who was taken too soon

Three people — two men and a woman — were arrested last week in connection to his death and charged with aggravated kidnapping for extortion and aggravated homicide. A minor also presented himself to the Public Prosecutor's Office and admitted he participated in the crime. The suspects denied the charges at a hearing, according to Colombian officials.

Following Xiong's death, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota warned about Colombian criminals using dating apps to lure and then assault victims. The embassy said it was aware of eight suspicious deaths of U.S. citizens in Medellín in November and December of 2023.

The funeral will take place in St. Paul on Saturday afternoon and will last for three days, which is typical in Hmong culture. Gov. Tim Walz is expected to be in attendance.

Xiong's family says they will continue his work of advocacy and social justice.

Note: The above video first aired on Dec. 23, 2023

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