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Vietnamese Leader Says Killings Not Gang-Linked

Times Staff Writer

As Garden Grove police continued on Monday to seek suspects--or even a firm motive--in the shooting deaths of two Vietnamese men at a popular restaurant, at least one community leader tried to defuse the theory that the killings were gang-related.

“These were not gang people,” the community leader said, speaking only on the condition that he remain anonymous. “They were just two groups of young people who got in an argument at a dance and it continued when they got to the restaurant later. Apparently, it had something to do with a girl who was with one of the boys.”

Spoke With Witnesses

Quy Ngoc Nguyen, 25, of Long Beach and Minh Luu, 23, of Sunnymead were killed and four other people, including the restaurant manager and a busboy, were wounded.

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The community leader indicated that he had spoken with witnesses to the shooting, which erupted about 1:40 a.m. Sunday inside the My Nguyen restaurant at 14282 Brookhurst St. The restaurant, which opened last February in a small, 10-unit shopping center, serves customers until 3 a.m. on weekends.

The man said he was told that Nguyen and his companions had been followed from the dance to the restaurant by Luu and several other people and that there had been another argument outside.

“Nguyen was at the cashier paying his bill when he was shot in the neck,” the man said. “And then there were many other shots. But no one knows who started it.”

That version of the incident coincides with comments made Sunday afternoon by both the restaurant manager and the busboy.

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Phuc Phung, 41, of Santa Ana said he was at the bar having a drink and did not see the shooting start.

“I think they were having a fight, sort of like a gang fight,” said Phung, who was struck in the arm by one of more than a dozen bullets that were fired. “They were having an argument outside and then went inside and started shooting.”

Woman Believed Target

Rigoberto Pacheco-Nava, 21, of Garden Grove said he was pushing his bus cart through the restaurant when some of the four people seated at one table began shooting, apparently trying to hit a woman seated nearby.

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“Then another guy at Table 12 pulled out a pistol and fired shots all over the restaurant,” said Pacheco-Nava, who was struck in the leg by a bullet. The woman was not injured, he said.

Two other persons who were wounded were identified as Tam V. Huynh, 20, of Fountain Valley and Loc V. Tran, 25, of Riverside.

Police, meanwhile, on Monday tentatively advanced the theory that Phung, the manager, might himself have been the target of the gunmen.

If there was a specific intended victim, said Sgt. Bruce Beauchamp, a Garden Grove police spokesman, “the most likely one seems to be the manager of the restaurant. The reason for that is the fact that several of the shots were fired in his direction.”

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However, Beauchamp added, “we can only surmise that. We don’t know for sure that there was even an intended victim.”

Phung could not be reached Monday for comment.

Three Different Theories

Beyond that, investigators were saying little about the case.

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“We generally have three different theories,” said Garden Grove Police Detective Ron Shave, who is heading the investigation. “We’ll proceed with all three.”

While declining to elaborate on those theories, Shave did say that investigators believe the gunmen, whom they describe as three young Asians, “apparently had an objective and we’re trying to sort out what that objective was.”

Police say they have been hampered in their investigation by the fact that not only did the gunmen flee immediately after the shooting but so did many potential witnesses.

“There were 100 to 120 people in the restaurant when it happened,” Beauchamp said. “When we arrived, there were only about two dozen left.”

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“What we’re really looking for now is help from the community,” he said. “We need some people who are willing to come forward to help us straighten out all the various versions we’re getting of what occurred.”


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