Ex-UC Irvine student threw mother off campus building then jumped to his death, police say

The exterior of a multi-story building with a pedestrian bridge.
The bodies of Andrew Nguyen Doan, 36, and Thao Thi Nguyen, 77, were found in a UC Irvine plaza Tuesday afternoon, according to the Irvine Police Department.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A former UC Irvine student is believed to have thrown his mother from a building on campus before jumping to his death on Tuesday in an incident authorities are investigating as a murder-suicide.

The bodies of Andrew Nguyen Doan, 36, and Thao Thi Nguyen, 77, both of Irvine, were found in a plaza in the School of Social Sciences on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Irvine Police Department.

“The investigation has determined Doan picked up Nguyen and threw her off the landing of a multistory building,” police said. “Doan then jumped from the same landing to his death.”

Doan was a biological sciences major at UC Irvine from September 2017 to June 2019; he did not graduate, according to UCI spokesman Tom Vasich.


Campus police received several 911 calls reporting two people on the ground in front of a building just before 4 p.m. Tuesday, Irvine police said. The pair’s bodies were found in the plaza in the 200 block of Pereira Drive.

A motive isn’t known for Tuesday’s fatal incident, but police said they had contacted Doan “multiple times in the past,” most recently in 2019 for “mental health concerns.”

Orange County Superior Court records show Doan pleaded guilty on July 10, 2020, to sexual battery in connection with an incident that had occurred about a year before.

The 2019 case involved sexual battery of his roommate at a mental hospital, said Kimberly Edds, an Orange County district attorney’s office spokesperson.

Court records show that Nguyen posted $100,000 bail for her son on Sept. 26, 2019, and that he was later sentenced to 156 days in jail and given three years of probation.

Doan’s probation ended on July 22 this year, court records show.

Friday was the last day of the fall quarter at the Orange County campus, so few students were on site when the bodies were found, Vasich said. Still, the university made counselors available on Wednesday to students and others affected by the incident.

Signs with phone numbers to suicide prevention lines and similar messages are posted in the stairwells near where the bodies were found, Vasich said, and there are more signs at various locations on campus.

In 2014, 25-year-old Maxwell Chorak of Santa Ana jumped to his death from a social sciences building on the UC Irvine campus, according to authorities. He died in the same plaza where Nguyen’s and Doan’s bodies were found Tuesday.

The exterior stairwell where Chorak died was lined with suicide prevention messages that read, “We can help,” according to a December 2014 OC Weekly article that detailed multiple suicides at the university.


Suicide prevention and crisis counseling resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, seek help from a professional and call 9-8-8. The United States’ first nationwide three-digit mental health crisis hotline, 988 will connect callers with trained mental health counselors. Text “HOME” to 741741 in the U.S. and Canada to reach the Crisis Text Line.

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