December 15, 2011



Young hero to be honored for bravery

Mary MeauxThe Port Arthur NewsThe Port Arthur NewsThu Dec 15, 2011, 10:12 AM CST

PORT ARTHUR — Seated on the sofa with her younger sister, Kaylin Hoang seemed like the typical sixth-grader, eating sunflower seeds and watching Nickelodeon.

But less than a month ago, on Nov. 20, the living room scenario was very much different. An armed man had entered the home and held the family of five at gunpoint. Kaylin was able to sneak to her room, hide under her bed, and call 911. Her bravery didn’t go unnoticed; the Rotary Club of Port Arthur will present Kaylin with the first “I Made a Difference” award on Thursday.

Kaylin was in her room when she heard a knock at the family’s 18th Street home in Port Arthur. The armed man then went to the back door and made his way into the home and followed Kaylin into the living room.

Kelly Pham, Kaylin’s grandmother, told of seeing her granddaughter enter the room with the man and saying “he has a gun.”

Kaylin Hoang, Kayla Hoang, and Julie Nguyen share a special moment together at their home in Port Arthur. The Rotary Club of Port Arthur will present the first "I Made a Difference" award on Thursday to Kaylin for having the courage and strength to call 911 while a burglar held her family at gunpoint, face down, on their living room floor last month. (1 of 1

The burglar made Kaylin and grandparents Kelly Pham and Chien Nguyen lie down on the floor. Kaylin’s mother, Julie Nguyen, was in a nearby bedroom dialing 911 when the man kicked in the door to the room and made her join her parents on the floor.

Meanwhile Kaylin’s sister Kayla, 8, had heard the strange man’s voice while showering and locked herself in the bathroom, Kayla said.

“I thought he might shoot one of us,” Nguyen said as she looked over at her two daughters seated together on Wednesday night. “And not knowing where my kids were ...”

The man ransacked the home looking for money and jewelry while pointing the gun alternately at Pham and at her husband’s head, Pham said.

Kaylin was able to escape to her room when the intruder’s attention was focused on the grandparents.

“When he told her (grandmother) to get down on the floor, that’s when I ran to my room, hid under the bed and called 911,” Kaylin said.

The burglar then decided to check to see if anyone else was at home, this time targeting Kaylin’s room. The door to the girl’s bedroom still bears shoe marks and deep cracks where the man viciously kicked to gain entry. When his attention was focused on kicking the door, Pham crawled outside and ran through the neighborhood seeking help.

Pham said that after she left, the burglar raced back through the house, stole her purse, and ran away. Pham’s husband Chien Nguyen grabbed his car keys and followed the suspect and gave police a description of the suspect’s vehicle.

Port Arthur Police arrested a 60-year-old Port Arthur man on charges of aggravated robbery shortly after the incident.

Rotary Club member Frank Cricchio said Kaylin’s story gave him the idea of beginning the “I Made A Difference” award. He asked fellow Rotarians and they too were touched by the girl’s bravery. He plans to make the award an annual event and enlist the assistance of Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton in helping with the selection of future award recipients.

Cricchio said Kaylin will be also be presented with a scholarship at Lamar Tech in Port Arthur.

The proud mother is also a busy single mother. She works two jobs, has two associates degrees and is currently working on a bachelors degree, and even attends TCPT, a physical fitness “camp.”

“Their education is very important to me and I wonder how I, as a single mother, can afford it,” she said adding she is very grateful for the scholarship.

Persons wishing to contribute to the scholarship fund can do so by sending a check to Port Arthur Rotary Club, and designating the funds go to the “I Made a Difference” award, 3148 19th St., Port Arthur, TX, 77642.