Mean Streets

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LOS ANGELES: Dr. Haing S. Ngor escaped the killing fields of his native Cambodia only to be gunned down on a street in L.A.'s Chinatown. Ngor, who won an Academy Award for portraying Dith Pran in "The Killing Fields" in 1984, was apparently shot to death outside his home Sunday night. "Haing Ngor was a man of great strength and courage, and seemed to me always prepared to meet his death," Oliver Stone, who directed Ngor in "Heaven and Earth" two years ago, told the Associated Press Monday. "For him to be killed so senselessly -- whatever the motive -- shows us that violence is no less a threat in the streets of our own cities than it was in Cambodia." In "The Killing Fields," Ngor portrayed Dith Pran, an aide to New York Times correspondent Sidney Schanberg during the Vietnam War. The actor actually had lived through strikingly similar horrors, as both were imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge regime that killed millions of Cambodians. In a recent memoir, he wrote of watching his wife die in childbirth because had he revealed his training as a doctor, he would have been executed. "Maybe in my last life before this one, I did something wrong to hurt people," Ngor, a Buddhist, once said. "But this life, I paid back."