EDMONDS — An Everett man who is suspected of shooting three people Tuesday afternoon at a Korean market in Edmonds, killing one of them, turned himself in to police the same night.
Duy Phuon Nguyen, 27, was accompanied to the Everett police station by his mother, where Edmonds detectives took him into custody for investigation of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault.
Nguyen’s mother told an Edmonds detective she talked to her son on the phone after the shooting. He reportedly told her that “he loved her, had messed up, and wanted to die,” according to police reports filed in Everett District Court. He mentioned he fired his weapon, according to his mother’s account, but didn’t say whether anyone had been shot.
In a separate conversation, Nguyen’s father reported to police that Nguyen admitted to shooting his estranged wife and her two friends, including a woman who later died. From what detectives could gather, Nguyen and his wife had been separated for a matter of days.
Nguyen was booked into the Snohomish County Jail.
The shooting took place just before the start of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. At a press briefing Wednesday, Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure said people should seek help and to contact law enforcement if they’re in a dangerous situation.
“When a victim wants to leave a relationship, that is the most volatile time for something like this to occur,” McClure said. “As this incident points out, even asking for help and having a support system around you can put those that you are relying on for support in danger, which makes these things all the more complicated.”
Mayor Mike Nelson said he was saddened by “the tragic loss of life” and the “senseless violence.”
“We are committed as a city to prevent and protect victims of domestic violence and bring those abusers to justice,” Nelson said.
Officers initially responded to reports of gunfire around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Boo Han Oriental Market in Edmonds, in the 22600 block of Highway 99. The 911 dispatcher could hear shots still being fired. Security footage showed a man wearing a baseball cap and a black face mask drive up in a Toyota Camry, then enter and exit the store three times. The video “clearly showed him shooting the three victims,” an Edmonds detective wrote. Nguyen followed the man and two women as they left the store, McClure said. He then walked around in front of them, faced them and opened fire. Eleven 9 mm shell casings were found near the main doors of the market.
“This appears to be a very deliberate act of violence at the store. Whether he meant to target one or all three, we don’t know,” McClure said.
Not only was the grocery store open for business, but so was every other store at the strip mall, he said.
Two women, 20 and 24, who lived together in Mountlake Terrace, were taken to Harborview Medical Center, and a 23-year-old man was transported to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. They all underwent surgery for their injuries. The 24-year-old woman was shot in the face and was in critical condition on Wednesday. The man, who had gunshot wounds to both legs and his stomach, was expected to live. The younger woman was shot in the arm and at least once in the stomach and later succumbed her injuries. Her name, as well as her cause and manner of death, will be released by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
McClure praised the officers who rushed to the victims’ aid. Two of those officers had been on solo patrol for just four days, and another was still in training. The trainee had 15 years of experience working as a technician in the emergency room at Swedish Edmonds, McClure said.
Mayor Nelson said “every resource was brought to bear” to find the suspect. That included helicopter support from the King County and Snohomish County sheriff’s offices, a drone from Lynnwood police and police dogs from across the county. Nelson believes it was because of the extensive search that the suspect gave himself up within seven hours.
In that time, detectives learned the 24-year-old woman was Nguyen’s estranged wife, and that after their separation she moved in with the younger woman, who she worked with at Boo Han. The man who was shot was the younger woman’s boyfriend.
Before the wife was taken into surgery, she told a detective that Nguyen had threatened to shoot her and her friend, on both the day before and the day of the attack. They were both working Tuesday, though the younger woman had gotten off work earlier in the day. The 20-year-old woman returned to console her roommate, who was upset about something.
The gun that Nguyen allegedly used was in his mother’s car at the police station, unloaded, according to court papers. An Edmonds detective conducting surveillance at Nguyen’s house noted a pistol magazine in a white Toyota Camry.
Everett District Court Judge Tam Bui found probable cause for Nguyen’s arrest on Wednesday in Everett District Court. However, a Vietnamese translator was not readily available. The court postponed hearing arguments on bail until Thursday. In the meantime, Bui set bail at $3 million as a provisional order, at a prosecutors’ request.
Bui also granted the defense a request to allow Nguyen to appear in court dressed in civilian clothes. Noting the line of TV cameras gathered in the courtroom, public defender Whitney Rivera said she didn’t want the defendant to appear dressed in the green-and-white striped garb handed out by the jail.
“I am trying to protect my client’s right to be presumed innocent,” Rivera said.
At his next court hearing, he’ll likely be wearing a button-up shirt.
How to get help
Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County provides free and confidential services, including an emergency shelter, legal advocacy, support groups and domestic violence education. For help, call the 24-hour support line: 425-25-ABUSE (425-252-2873).
For more information, visit www.dvs-snoco.org.