February 26, 2010

Police seek 2 men who fled area of slaying

DAVID HENCH

— By

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Serge Mulongo, who escaped civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and eventually found refuge in Portland, was gunned down Wednesday night at the corner of Park Avenue and Weymouth Street, police said.

Investigators interviewed people who were in the area at 11:15 p.m., when residents reported hearing shots fired in quick succession. No arrests were made Thursday.

Police say they are particularly interested in two men who were seen running from the area right after the shooting. They have not been able to identify the pair, and aren't positive that the men were involved in the killing.

Mulongo, who was 24, could have a hot temper and had a circle of friends who made it hard for him to stay out of trouble, said his brother Yannick Mulongo.

Yannick Mulongo is in the Cumberland County Jail, awaiting trial on charges of manslaughter and aggravated drunken driving in a crash in September that killed Guy Kitoko, 18, a relative by marriage.

Serge Mulongo developed a disregard for his own well-being after the crash that killed his relative and sent his brother to jail, said Jimmy Samson, a friend who lives at 218 Park Ave., the apartment building where the shooting occurred.

''He didn't care about life. I knew something was going to happen,'' Samson said.

Serge Mulongo was staying with friends in the building and went to the Old Port on Wednesday night, Samson said. He left his friends to go home.

Somewhere, whether downtown or back at the building, he encountered his killer, Samson said.

Police say Mulongo was at a party at 218 Park Ave. just before the shooting. They have not said what led to the shooting.

Police notified Yannick Mulongo of his brother's death early Thursday.

Their father came to Portland in 2000 and the two boys remained in Congo with an uncle. They eventually fled their war-torn homeland to Zambia, where their luggage and money were stolen. They stayed with family members and friends for three years.

''He was like my dad when my dad wasn't there,'' Yannick Mulongo said of his brother.

Serge Mulongo got permission to emigrate to the United States but Yannick was too sick to go, so the older brother stayed. Eventually, Yannick Mulongo got better and the two teenagers joined their father in Portland in 2004.

Yannick Mulongo said his brother was easy to like.

''He was funny. He would make people laugh,'' he said. But he had a dark side as well.

''Sometimes he can get mad and just blow up for no reason,'' Yannick Mulongo said. ''Most of the time he was just a calm guy.''

He was a 2005 Portland High School graduate and an accomplished distance runner. He enjoyed talent shows, where he would do African dances.

After high school, he struggled.

He held jobs at McDonald's, Toys ''R'' Us and a warehouse, but was not working recently, Yannick Mulongo said.

In 2007, he was arrested at Portland High for assaulting two students on the front steps and tussling with the school resource officer.

''He just got into a bad crowd of friends, just like I did,'' Yannick Mulongo said.

His brother was kicked out of the apartment where he lived. Some of his friends turned on him.

The last time the brothers saw each other was in the weeks after the car crash, in which police say Yannick Mulongo was drunk and driving an estimated 76 mph in a 35 mph zone on Brighton Avenue.

Serge Mulongo counseled his brother to stay in South Portland, where he was living at the time, to avoid people in Portland who were bad influences.

When Yannick Mulongo was arraigned in Cumberland County Superior Court, his father, Etienne Mulongo, said the crash was a tragedy for his family and Kitoko's.

Wednesday's shooting just adds to the heartache, Yannick Mulongo said.

Last month, he wrote his brother a letter from jail, urging him to avoid the trouble that weighed on their father and threatened to leave him without their help as he aged.

''I told him, 'We just need to calm down and fix our lives. All this trouble we caused. I don't want to lose everything,''' he said.

Yannick Mulongo said he doesn't know whether his brother ever got the letter.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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