Published Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 | 12:12 p.m.
About 400 people gathered Sunday at a Las Vegas funeral home to mourn a 25-year-old real estate agent, UNLV biology student and Burmese political asylee who died last month after he was punched outside a party.
William Yar Parke and a friend were leaving a suite at the Venetian Dec. 28 around 2:30 a.m. when Parke was confronted by a few men from the party, according to Joe Paweleka, a family friend briefed by Metro Police about what was on surveillance tape of the incident.
"One of the guys approached him and knocked him out cold," Pawelek said. "And then they took off."
Parke fell backwards from the force of the punch, landing headfirst on a hard floor, Pawelek said.
Parke was transported to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he slipped into a coma. He was taken off life support Dec. 29, according to Grace Aye, Parke's mother.
The Clark County Coroner's Office ruled the death a homicide resulting from a blunt force injury to the head.
Originally, the case was being handled by Metro Police's violent crimes unit, but has been transferred to homicide detectives, said Officer Laura Meltzer.
Police already have an arrest warrant out for Alex Vongsouphanh, 20, who is suspected to have punched Parke, said Meltzer on Jan. 13.
Parke's death has generated interest in the local Burmese community. His family fled from Burma to Guam in 2005, where they lived before arriving in Las Vegas in 2009 seeking political asylum, according to Aye.
Parke obtained U.S. citizenship in 2013 and changed his legal name to William Yar Parke, consisting of a Western first name and the last name of his aunt, Tint Tint Parke, who raised him while his mother worked abroad. The name that appears on his diploma from Spring Valley High School is Yar Pyih.
During high school, Parke worked at Sonny Sushi, first as a sushi chef and then as a marketing manager, said owner Sann Ni. Ni was also Parke’s first buyer when Parke obtained his real estate license.
While a full-time student at UNLV, Parke enrolled in an online course offered by Key Realty School in Las Vegas. The whole process took two-and-a-half weeks, said Teddy Federwitz, a real estate broker who saw his potential and hired him to sell homes as an agent for Key Realty. Parke sold about $1.75 million of residential real estate in his first year, said Federwitz.
“God, I love this,” Parke told him two weeks into the job. He had found his calling, said Federwitz. But he also listened to Federwitz’ advice: Don’t drop out of college.
“I talked him out of it,” said Federwitz. "You will always have your degree no matter what,” he told Parke.
Longtime friend Adam Naing said Parke already had enough credits to graduate approaching his last semester at UNLV this spring. The bachelor’s degree in biology was for a career in medicine, Parke's mother said. She had always wanted him to be a doctor.
“For me, it’s so crazy,” Aye said. The two shared a house together in Las Vegas. “I didn’t have a chance to take care of, treat my son,” she said, “He was gone right away.”
"There's nothing except heartache," said Pawelek. "He was at the prime of his life."
Parke is survived by his mother, his father U Waziyanyar Na, a monk at the Chaiya Meditation Monastery in Las Vegas, and his younger brother, Johnny K. Parke of Guam.
A fund for Parke’s funeral expenses has been created for those wishing to donate online.