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Grieving family members of the couple who died in a murder-suicide said Thursday that they saw no signs of trouble leading up to the deadly act.

And while they don't understand why Yia Xiong shot and killed his partner Ka Lor before turning the gun on himself while the couple's five young children were inside the house, they acknowledged they will need help picking up the pieces amid funeral expenses and the cost of raising the orphaned children.

"We just need help," said Xiong's older brother, Chee Nou Xiong. "Especially with five kids that [are] still so young. They still have a bright future."

Chee Nou Xiong said that his younger brother and sister-in-law were amazing parents who showed no signs of violence between themselves or their children. He said the family had returned from a yearly camping trip days before the fatal shooting, adding that his brother seemed normal when he last talked to him.

"When I think of my sister-in-law and my brother, my whole body still shakes. It's just something where it pulls your heart out," Chee Nou Xiong said. "His kid[s] are just his heart — his world. I don't think he would ever have the heart to harm them."

Thursday's news conference comes two days after Xiong, 33, killed Lor, 30, in their St. Paul home in the 2000 block of California Avenue. St. Paul Police Department spokesman Sgt. David McCabe said Xiong and Lor were in a relationship for about a decade, parenting five kids between 2 and 9 years old. The children are now safe with other family members.

Police told Chee Nou Xiong that on the night of the shooting his brother told the kids to go play in the basement. The eldest heard gunshots moments later, moving upstairs to find that Xiong had shot and killed Lor before killing himself. The 9-year-old then called police and escorted his siblings outside in order to protect them from the scene.

St. Paul investigators have since recovered the weapon and are continuing to investigate.

Data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says there have been nearly 400 gun-related domestic violence deaths this year.

The most recent crime report by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety found that 34 deaths and more than 14,000 assaults stemmed from domestic violence.

And a 2020 report by Violence Free Minnesota, a statewide coalition working to end relationship abuse, found that at least 20 children lost a parent to intimate partner homicide.

Paul Xiong, president of Hmong 18 Council Inc., said the Hmong community is still reeling from the deaths of a Hmong couple and their three children in July. He called on the state to help with more domestic violence programs and asked the community to donate in hopes of defraying funeral costs.

Chee Nou Xiong set up an online fundraising page to help cover those costs and hopes to raise $30,000.

Minnesotans and others struggling with thoughts of suicide or other mental health crises can receive immediate help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling or texting 988.