Santa Ana beating victim on life support; woman arrested

A 23-year-old woman was on life support after she was beaten into unconsciousness outside a Santa Ana nightclub, and police said they have arrested a woman and are seeking four other people in connection with the incident.

The violence occurred early Saturday as patrons waited to get into the Crosby, a popular nightspot in the city’s increasingly vibrant historic district.

Police said the young woman who was beaten, identified by family and friends as Kim Pham, was hit and stomped after an argument between two groups. Detectives said they don’t believe the two groups knew each other, and they don’t know what prompted the argument.


“She was kicked and punched to the point that she was unconscious when officers arrived,” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, a police spokesman.

Detectives in Santa Ana made an arrest early Monday, using video apparently taken by a bystander, Bertagna said.

The female suspect — described only as being from Santa Ana and in her 20s — was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily harm, Bertagna said. He said officers are continuing to search for two other women and two men. Bertagna said the name of the arrested woman would not be released until the others are apprehended.

Pham’s sister, Katie Nguyen, said on her Facebook page: “Our beloved sister, daughter and friend Kim (Annie) Pham passed away on Sunday.... Kim is currently on life support because her wishes had always been to help others by being an organ donor.

“We are praying for her at her bedside!,” she added Monday evening.

Bertagna said detectives are continuing to look for witnesses and bystanders who recorded videos of the incident. Police are also reviewing surveillance video from nearby businesses.

An eight-second video of the beating posted online shows a group of people in a violent scrum next to a utility box near 4th Street and Broadway. As a security guard in a dark blue jacket approaches, at least one person is seen kicking at something on the ground.

Some of the bystanders can be seen pulling people away from the melee, while others watch or record the struggle on their cellphones. One woman in the video twirls her hair as the fighting continues.

“It breaks my heart that five people attacked one young woman and that certain people watched and didn’t try to stop it,” said Councilwoman Michele Martinez, whose district includes downtown Santa Ana. “I’m in utter shock.”

Martinez said she plans on reviving discussions about posting surveillance cameras in the downtown area.

The topic came before the city in 2010 after a man was shot in a nearby parking garage during a robbery, Martinez said, but was dropped because of a lack of funding.

Saturday’s beating is the most violent incident in the historic district since that shooting, she said. Crime in Santa Ana has declined in recent years.

“We don’t want people to think it’s not a safe place to visit,” Martinez said.

A makeshift memorial of flowers, crosses and candles continued to grow Monday around the sidewalk utility box where the attack occurred.

“Kim just recently graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor in psychology and she had so much to give back, so much to experience, and it was cut short,” said Erik Doan, Pham’s uncle.

He and his wife, Nga, were visiting the memorial with their 21-month-old son son, Frederik.

Larry Trinh also stopped at the memorial.

The 26-year-old Westminster resident said Pham, a friend, was very affectionate and caring.

“It’s a depressing sight,” Trinh said, looking at the memorial. “I’m really going to miss talking to her. She could always make me laugh.”

Downtown Inc., the business association in the area, has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Times staff photographer Allen Schaben contributed to this report.