EDMONDS — A suspected shooter sent alarming text messages the night before he opened fire at an Asian market in Edmonds in September, killing a Mountlake Terrace woman and wounding two others, according to charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Duy Phuong Nguyen, 27, is charged with first-degree murder with a firearm in the death of Thanh Vy Ly, 20, and two counts of first-degree assault for shooting Ly’s boyfriend and his own wife Sept. 29.
Nguyen and his wife, 24, wed three years ago in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. She moved to Everett in July 2020, to live with her husband and his parents, the charges say. She worked at the Boo Han Market on Highway 99, along with Nguyen’s mother and another woman who became a close friend, Ly, 20.
According to charging papers, Nguyen began to beat his wife, hitting her in the face.
On Aug. 2, she called 911 sobbing and saying, “Please help me! He hit me!”
Another woman — “presumably Defendant’s mother” — grabbed the phone and told the dispatcher, “That’s OK, ma’am,” according to the charges. Amid the confused moments that followed, it sounded as if the original 911 caller stated, “That’s OK. I will call you later.” Police drove to the area and tried to call back the number, but they could not find the woman, according to the charges.
The woman confided in her coworker, Ly, that Nguyen’s family accused her of disrespecting them by calling police. Weeks later, she was kicked out of the house. Ly invited her to move into her apartment in Mountlake Terrace.
The estranged wife often took the bus. According to her, Nguyen would “randomly appear at her bus stops.” She kept a log in her phone each time she saw him watching her, the charges state.
The night before the shooting, Nguyen texted her: “(Ly) is finished,” and “Tomorrow everything will end.” She shared the messages with Ly and Ly’s boyfriend. They knew Nguyen had guns and liked to go target shooting. In light of the circumstances, the boyfriend drove both women to work and stayed with them during their shifts on Sept. 29.
Then the couple left around 2 p.m.
At 3:05 p.m., Nguyen showed up asking for Ly, following his estranged wife around the store and demanding to know where she was, the court papers say. After a phone call with her friend, Ly decided to come back to the market “to talk with Defendant to smooth things over.”
Before they returned, Nguyen walked back to the store and bought some things at 3:12 p.m. He left again at 3:14 p.m. The couple arrived at 3:23 p.m. Nguyen walked into the store again just after them.
At a distance, the trio saw him speaking with a manager. Ly’s boyfriend realized “they should not approach (Nguyen) based on his demeanor,” according to the charges. They decided to call police, and walked to the entrance of the store. Ly embraced and consoled her crying friend.
“Oh, hi,” Ly’s boyfriend told a dispatcher, according to the charges. “My girlfriend received a threat yesterday, and the guy who sent the threat is showing at her workplace at Boo Han Market — ”
Fifty seconds into the call, Nguyen casually walked up to the huddled group. He pulled out a black handgun, and “without breaking his stride,” he began firing roughly 12 rounds.
“Once all of his victims fell to the ground, he nonchalantly walked away,” according to the charges filed by deputy prosecutors Audrey Majkut and Corinne Klein.
The wife suffered bullet wounds to her cheek and leg.
The boyfriend reported he could not feel his legs, and that his back felt like it was on fire. He had suffered at least five gunshot wounds in his legs and lower right abdomen.
Ly suffered two gunshot wounds: one to the abdomen and one to the arm.
In the ambulance, Ly told a paramedic, “My friend’s husband did this.” She died in the operating room.
The other two gunshot victims were expected to survive.
Edmonds police publicly recognized the first officers on the scene — Kristian Gonzalez, Erick Martinez, Bobby Peck and Rheshuan Strange — for their swift actions when they “bravely ran into the chaos that afternoon and provided critical lifesaving aid through the use of tourniquets, chest seals and well-directed direct pressure.” Only one of them, Peck, had worked solo patrol for more than a few shifts. Martinez, an emergency room technician for 15 years, had been undergoing field training for eight weeks.
About five hours after the shooting, an Edmonds detective received a phone call from a woman saying she was Nguyen’s mother. She was with him outside the Everett Police Department South Precinct off Everett Mall Way.
She handed the phone to her son.
“I want to surrender,” Nguyen said, according to the charges.
He reportedly told police he had a Glock in his mother’s GMC, and another gun — what turned out to be a Beretta — in his car at his home. Police found both weapons as described and seized them. Records revealed Nguyen purchased the Beretta in 2016. Charging papers say he bought the Glock two weeks before the shooting.
Police believe the Glock was the murder weapon.
Bail remained at $3 million when Nguyen was arraigned this week. He was represented by a public defender.
At the time of his arrest, another Edmonds detective explained to Nguyen why he was being booked into jail. The officer told him he was accused of assault and murder. According to the charges, Nguyen replied, “Who died?”
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.