A man who 27 years ago fired shots into a crowd after a high school football game in west Modesto has been granted parole, but prosecutors say the convicted felon might be deported once he’s released from prison.
Kheth Khun, 45, of Modesto, was found suitable for parole on Thursday at a hearing at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced this week.
In 1991, Khun, who was 19 at the time, was convicted of three counts of attempted murder with enhancements for using a gun and causing great bodily injury. Two bystanders, who were Modesto High School students, were seriously wounded. Another bystander who was parking his pick-up truck also was struck by gunfire.
The parole board in 2010 ordered Khun to remain in prison for at least another 10 years. Prosecutors said a new state law made Khun eligible for early parole because he was younger than 23 at the time of the shooting.
While in prison, Khun has earned a college associate’s degree and has not been punished for violating prison rules. A prison psychologist determined there is a low risk of Khun committing violence if he was released.
The District Attorney’s Office opposed early parole for Khun because of the egregious and callous disregard for life and suffering of others. Prosecutors said Khun has an immigration hold and may be deported to his home country of Cambodia upon his release from prison.
Authorities have said Khun was a member of Modesto Hit Squad street gang when he fired into the crowd in the parking lot of the Pizza Pub on Kansas Avenue because he wanted to confront his rivals.
Khun also was a student at Modesto High at the time. Prosecutors said there were about 40 students at the school who called themselves “The Cowboys,” and they wore Western style clothing, listened to country music and drove pickups.
Victims not in rival group
Tension between the two groups was high after one of Khun’s gang associates was angered, when a “Cowboy” made a rude remark and gesture to him. Khun told some “Cowboys” to meet at the Pizza Pub after the Friday night football game.
After the game on Nov. 9, 1990, Khun walked from a pool hall to the pizza parlor with a handgun. Prosecutors said Khun fired the gun, shooting a 17-year-old girl in her shoulder and a 15-year-old boy in the left side of his head, along with the other bystander parking his pickup.
None of the shooting victims was a member of the “Cowboy” group or had anything to do with the previous conflict with Khun’s gang, according to prosecutors. Khun left the area and threw his gun into a river. He was arrested the following day.