Man seriously injured by stray bullet in N.C.

Family seeks transfer of patient to Atlanta’s Shepherd Center.

In the midst of a double celebration — the Fourth of July and the opening of a new temple in North Carolina — a stray bullet struck a bystander in the head. Though he is doing better, the injury has left him in intensive care.

Brandon Yam, 47, was shot Friday night at the Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Charlotte. Yam, originally from Cambodia, lived in Atlanta until his marriage, and his family is still almost entirely based in Atlanta.

Sister Chenda Yam Wilson said as of Tuesday his situation is much improved but he will need a lot of rehabilitation therapy to recover. She and other members of his family are working to get him transferred to the Shepherd Center, where two of his sisters, Wilson and Phally Yam Bentley, work.

“I’m begging; I’m pleading. That is where we want him to go,” Wilson said. “As a family we are really trying to get him over there because we have all the family, brothers and sisters, over there.”

But she said a transfer is still up in the air as his condition has fluctuated.

Wilson said her brother was at the family's stand at the temple, which was celebrating its opening with a large gathering of people from across the country, when he suddenly collapsed in front of his wife of almost 20 years and two of his four children. The bullet lodged in his head. The Charlotte Observer reported the bullet came down through the top of the tent around 9 p.m. and his wife, Sopheap Kim, didn't know what had happened until after the police were called.

Yam was taken to Carolinas Medical Center and was partially paralyzed but alert and responsive, seeming to recognize family members as of Sunday. Wilson said Yam was doing well enough that he was transferred from the trauma intensive care unit to a regular floor but Monday morning, things took a turn for the worse and Yam was transferred to neuro-ICU, where he remains.

Tuesday, Wilson said he was doing better again, though he is still in the ICU and doctors predict a long road to recovery.

“He recognizes us,” she said. “From yesterday to today, it’s like day and night. It’s better.”

Yam has four children — ages 17, 16, 4 and 7 months.

Wilson and her family ask the public to report any information about the shooting to the police.

“July 4th is supposed to be a celebration of independence, not using guns,” she said. “It did hurt someone and not just my brother, my whole family. We need a lot of prayer.”