In the aftermath of a shooting that left two men dead and another hospitalized, sheriff’s investigators on Friday said the motive was one victim’s reluctance to join in a retaliation for a gang attack that left a friend paralyzed.
Duc Dien Tran Nguyen, 20, one of the survivors, remained in fair condition at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Nguyen’s father, Dai Tran Nguyen, 45, who was blind, died of a single gunshot wound on Thursday as he tried to come to the aid of his son during an argument between the young man and two of his friends.
One of the friends, Nhan Hau Duc Nguyen, 20, of Mission Viejo, then shot himself to death. Nhan Nguyen, who is also known as Alex, was not related to the father and son.
The other friend, Huy Anh Ngo, 19, of Rancho Santa Margarita, apparently was not injured and fled after the shooting, Sheriff’s Lt. Richard J. Olson said. Ngo, known to friends as Timmy, is being sought for his role in the episode but remained at large Friday night.
The shootings occurred in Dai Nguyen’s rented house in El Toro.
According to sheriff’s investigators, the argument involved the son’s reluctance to join in an effort to retaliate against some gang members who attacked his two friends last year. The pair were seriously injured, and Nhan Nguyen was left paralyzed from the waist down.
The tragic evening unfolded when both friends, Nhan Nguyen and Ngo, first drove to the home of Duc Nguyen’s girlfriend looking for him, Olson said. When they couldn’t find him there, they drove with the girlfriend to Duc Nguyen’s home on the corner of Sunlight Creek and Summer Creek in El Toro.
They were invited in by Duc Nguyen’s parents. But after several hours, the parents and their daughter went to bed, leaving the three young men and Duc’s girlfriend to talk.
But the conversation got heated when Nhan Nguyen and Ngo kept pushing Duc Nguyen to join them in a pay-back for last year’s gang attack outside a cafe in Westminster’s Little Saigon.
That attack led to the arrest of two suspects, but sheriff’s deputies did not have further information on them Friday other than to say that their criminal cases were pending.
When Duc Nguyen refused the pair’s requests Thursday that he join in the retaliation, he was shot in the left arm and in the stomach. His father was shot and killed as he tried to stop the violence.
Nhan Nguyen then shot himself to death, Olson said.
After the argument, Duc Nguyen’s mother, sister and girlfriend fled the house and sought refuge at a neighbor’s house, where they contacted sheriff’s deputies.
Sheriff’s Capt. Andy Romero said that although investigators have witnesses, each witness has given a different version of the shootings, making it difficult to identify the gunman.
“We’re going to have to decide who shot who based on a thorough examination of the evidence, and that includes the trajectory of the bullets,” Romero said. “As for now, we’ve got four witnesses with conflicting versions. They all say they saw things differently.”
An arrest warrant has been issued for Ngo, charging him with murder. He reportedly left the neighborhood in a gray, 1982 four-door Pontiac Bonneville, but the car was found Friday in Santa Ana.