Co-worker charged with murder in Cal State Fullerton stabbing: ‘It’s a true shock’

Evidence markers are placed around a vehicle Monday following the fatal stabbing at Cal State Fullerton.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A man who police say fatally stabbed his co-worker, a retired Cal State Fullerton administrator, in a campus parking lot was charged Friday in the slaying.

Chuyen Van Vo, 51, is facing a murder charge along with two sentencing enhancements based on allegations that he used a deadly weapon in the attack and committed the murder by lying in wait, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

Police say Vo attacked Steven Shek Keung Chan, 57, in his vehicle, killing the former budget director who had returned to Cal State Fullerton as a consultant. Chan was stabbed multiple times inside his car, which was parked in a campus lot. Paramedics performed lifesaving measures on the man, who was bleeding from his head, but he died at the scene.


Fullerton Police Lt. Jon Radus said the two men were employed by Cal State Fullerton, and Vo specifically targeted Chan in the attack. However, the nature of their relationship remains unclear.

Police have not disclosed any potential motive in the attack.

Vo was arrested at his home in Huntington Beach late Wednesday and is being held without bail in Orange County Jail in Santa Ana.

Outside his home on Cottonwood Circle on Friday, neighbors said they had trouble reconciling the family man who had lived on the street for more than a decade with someone accused of carrying out a violent attack.

“It’s a true shock,” neighbor Michael Wood said. “Last guy I’d ever expect being capable of doing this.”

Wood said that Vo’s father is the pastor of a local Baptist church and that Vo is very active in the church community. Wood said he and his wife, who is Vietnamese, would exchange tropical fruit with Vo that they’d grown in their backyards. Last year, they shared cherimoya with Vo, he said.

Monday’s attack on the Cal State Fullerton campus triggered a massive manhunt that lasted two days. Authorities combed the area with the help of Orange County Sheriff’s Department bloodhounds but did not immediately find a suspect.

Investigators released a sketch and surveillance video in hopes that someone could identify a man seen running from the crime scene. During their investigation, authorities also found an “incendiary device” and a backpack under Chan’s car that contained zip ties, wigs and other disguises.

Police declined to say exactly how investigators linked Vo to the slaying but said that items in the backpack played a role.

Chan served as Cal State Fullerton’s director of budget and finance and student services for university extended education from 2009 until he retired in 2017. He returned to the campus in early 2019 to work as a special consultant.

Vo worked in the same department as an administrative support coordinator. He has worked for Cal State Fullerton since 2006, a university spokeswoman said.

Public records show that Vo held licenses to sell life, accident and health insurance in Texas and health and life insurance in Nevada. Vo’s neighbors said his primary job was at Cal State Fullerton, but he also sold insurance on the side.


On Friday, an orange bucket filled with water and a garden hose had been abandoned along the pathway to Vo’s home. The two-story house was quiet, and neighbors said Vo’s wife and two children probably weren’t home.

“I feel so bad for the family,” Wood said. “School is starting soon, and I don’t know how the kids are going to school when Dad’s been arrested. It’s just so sad.”

Vega writes for Times Community News. Times staff writer Alejandra Reyes-Velarde contributed to this report.