Hickory police search for Buddhist monastery gunman

by: Dave Faherty Updated:

HICKORY, N.C. - Hickory police are trying to find the gunman who opened fire outside of a Buddhist monastery in Hickory, just missing a monk who was praying inside.

The shooting happened early Saturday morning at the monastery on 16th Street Northeast.

Eyewitness News talked with people about the damage and possible motive.

Police believe the shots came from in front of the building from somewhere near the street, where they found a number of shell casings on the ground.

Vietnamese monk Chan Tuong showed Eyewitness News where the gunfire hit the front glass doors at the Vien-Quang Monastery.

He was the only one inside the building early Saturday morning praying when he says a bullet whizzed by his head, damaging items on an altar.

A friend of his helped translate for us Monday.

"I was sitting here praying and he hears breaking glass and stuff and the bullet went right here," said Tuong.

Police said they do not know a motive behind the shooting or whether the monastery was targeted by the gunman.

On Monday night, they are stepping up patrols and have already talked with neighbors trying to learn more about what happened here.

Those visiting the Buddhist monastery Monday hope their religion has nothing to do with the gunfire.

"I hope not. This is just a little praying temple for us and we try to keep it inside here. We are not trying to do anything, you know," said visitor Nick Phan.

Police are taking a close look at not only the shell casing but the bullet fragments found inside, hoping to identify the weapon used here.

At this point, they can't tell if this was a drive-by or if someone got out of a vehicle to fire those shots.