Hotel worker in San Diego stabs guest, then intentionally drives off a pier, police say

A white car being pulled out of water by construction equipment
A man drove off Midway Pier in San Diego early Monday morning after he allegedly stabbed a woman in La Jolla.
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A hotel worker stabbed a woman in the chest in San Diego, then fled and drove off a pier into the ocean where his body was later recovered, authorities said.

When police pulled the white Honda out of the water, police found the suspect, 23-year-old Aaron Tran, dead with multiple stab wounds.

San Diego police won’t say why they believe Tran threatened and stabbed the female guest at The Shoal hotel in La Jolla, but said he appeared to have no criminal history before Monday’s attack.


San Diego police were called to the hotel along La Jolla Boulevard just after midnight, said Lt. Paul Phillips.

Two women checked into a room Sunday. Phillips described them only as a foreign exchange student and an out-of-state visitor. At one point during the night, Tran called the women in their room and told them he needed access to their room because there was a leak next door.

Phillips said one of the women was asleep, but the other allowed Tran — who had checked them into the hotel while working the front desk— to enter the room.

“They walked back toward the bathroom, and he asks her to hold up his phone, maybe as a flashlight or something,” Phillips said.

An investigation is underway after witnesses say a man got out of a car and started stabbing people who were watching Fourth of July fireworks in Huntington Beach.

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Instead, Phillips said the woman saw a message written on the phone telling her not to scream, that he was armed with a knife and would stab her.

“He was holding a knife and in a very short manner of time, there’s a struggle there,” Phillips said.


The woman fought with Tran and helped her roommate escape, Phillips said. During the struggle, however, she was stabbed in the chest.

Phillips said the wound appeared to be a “fairly superficial” cut near the collar bone, and she was treated at a nearby hospital.

The women managed to call 911 and Tran is believed to have fled the hotel in the white Honda.

Phillips said Tran did not appear to take anything from the women, and is not believed to have been injured in the altercation.

Police said five people were in custody -- although none had yet been charged with any crimes -- after a ‘mutual combat situation’ on the sand down by the waterline near Lifeguard Tower 14.

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By about 12:35 a.m., San Diego Harbor Police responded to a call from a witness who saw a car drive off the Midway Pier, said Sgt. Jose Torres with the San Diego Harbor Police. When police arrived, the vehicle was already fully submerged, and officers requested the help of divers.

Police are still investigating the incident, but Torres said the driver appeared to have intentionally driven off the pier. Images from the scene show a tow truck pulling a white, four-door Honda out of the water Monday morning.


Divers pulled one person from the vehicle at about 2:20 a.m. Phillips said the driver was identified as Tran.

Tran appeared to have multiple stab wounds on his body, but it is unclear how or when he was injured, Phillips said.

During the initial investigation, Phillips said there is no indication that Tran, an employee at the hotel for about six months, had been involved in any similar incident. Investigators are using Tran’s fingerprints and DNA to determine if he had been involved in any previous incidents, he said.

The incident is still under investigation.