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Stories about kids, guns and how to stop the violence. Precious Lives, created by 371 Productions, is a 2-year, 100-part weekly radio series about gun violence and young people in the Milwaukee area. The series applies a public health lens to each story to help listeners understand the full scope of the problem: who are the victims and the shooters; how are the weapons obtained; and what can we change about the environment that contributes to violence in Milwaukee?

#010 Precious Lives: The Immigration Story of Bill Thao's Family

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Emily Forman
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3-year-old son Magic was in the room when his 13-month-old brother Bill was shot and killed in an uncle's home.

Somboon Thao’s family escaped Laos hoping for a better life in Milwaukee, but then the worst thing imaginable happened.

Dozens of bullets flew through their home and one struck Somboon’s 13-month-old son, Bill. The toddler later died of injuries at Children's Hospital.

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Credit Emily Forman
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Bill Thao was shot and killed in December 2014. He was standing near the window in his uncle's home.

When the bullets started flying, a family member told the kids in the room to lay down on the ground - a reflex their generation had developed decades ago in the jungle, in Laos.

The Thao family says that the violence in Milwaukee is much less predictable than their native Laos, where the government hunted Hmong people after the Vietnam War.

Sebastian Family Psychology Practice has a team of mental health practitioners with diverse cultural backgrounds. They have interpreters in Hmong, Spanish, Burmese and many other languages. Visit PreciousLivesProject.org for more information.

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