SSAQUAH, Wash. -- While investigators look into the possibility that a dispute between gangs prompted the deadly shooting at Lake Sammamish State Park on Saturday, family members of one of the men killed say he was simply caught in the crossfire.
The King County Medical Examiner has not released the names of the two men who were shot to death at the park, but the family of Yang Keopraseurt said the 33-year-old Kent man was one of the victims.
"It's just hard to watch your family go through this," said his stepsister, Sakorn Keopanya. "To see the heart break of everybody. His family. His friends. It's just not right."
Keopanya said her stepbrother was at a BBQ with friends on Saturday when an argument broke out with another group of people at the park.
Investigators said the groups - which included more than 40 people, mostly of Asian descent - were having separate picnics near to each other at the park when someone in one group started taunting someone in the other group.
The verbal altercation turned into a fistfight between two or more people, then someone fired a gun into the air to break it up.
At that point, several people pulled out guns and started firing, said Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Department.
Keopanya doesn't know what the two groups were fighting about, but said Keopraseurt was trying to break up the fight when people started shooting.
More than 20 shots were fired, and Keopraseurt was fatally wounded. Another man, a 30-year-old from Seattle, was also killed.
"He was trying to be the peacemaker," Keopanya said. "And in the end he was the one that was shot."
Relatives said Keopraseurt was a proud husband and father of three young girls and a boy.
Officials said both groups involved in the shooting have gang affiliations, and a police source said Keopraseurt was a possible gang member. But Keopraseurt's friends and family deny it.
"He was a changed person. He was a good person," Keopanya said. "If you were around him you would laugh.There was no reason for any of this."
Six people were arrested Saturday night after the shootings, but five of them had to be released due to a lack of evidence to hold them in jail. The sixth suspect is being held on an unrelated charge.
The park was locked down after the shootings, and detectives spent Sunday collecting evidence and searching for weapons that may have been left behind.
So far, four guns have been recovered - two in a car, one next to a body and one tossed into some brush at the shooting scene near the beach.
The park re-opened at 6:30 a.m. on Monday.