EVERETT — An Everett man pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault for a triple shooting that left one woman dead at Boo Han Market in Edmonds.
Jail guards escorted Duy Phuong Nguyen, 28, in shackles into a courtroom to admit to guilt in the shooting that killed his wife’s friend Thanh Vy Ly, 20, and wounded Ly’s boyfriend and his own wife in September 2020.
He spoke through a Vietnamese interpreter.
Under state sentencing guidelines, Nguyen faces 25 to 31⅔ years behind bars, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Marybeth Dingledy said.
Weeks before the homicide, Nguyen’s wife had called 911 to say she was in danger, according to charging papers filed by county prosecutors.
“Please help me! He hit me!” she reported to a dispatcher.
Her sobbing could be heard for about 45 seconds on the line before another woman — believed to be Nguyen’s mother — picked up the phone, saying everything was OK, the charges say.
It sounded like the wife then said, “That’s OK, I’ll call you later,” but police were not sure, the charging papers say. Somebody then hung up the phone.
An Edmonds police officer reportedly drove to the area the wife had called from, tried to call the woman back several times and looked for her but could not find her, even with an estimate of the address based on cell towers.
Nguyen had beaten the wife multiple times, according to her report after the shooting.
Nguyen and the woman, 24, were married in Vietnam around 2017. She moved to Everett in 2020 to live with him and his parents, the charges say. She worked at Boo Han Market on Highway 99, along with Nguyen’s mother and another woman who became a close friend, Ly.
The woman confided in her friend, 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 showed the messages to 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 on Sept. 29.
The estranged wife was working in the market around 3 p.m. that day when Nguyen walked in and demanded she tell him where Ly was, the charges say. She called Ly, and Ly decided to show up at the market to “smooth things over” with Nguyen.
Ly and her boyfriend arrived at the market at 3:23 p.m., according to the charges. The boyfriend called police when he saw Nguyen’s demeanor. He, Ly and the wife walked to the store’s entrance. A little less than a minute 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, the charges say.
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 suffered at least five gunshot wounds in his legs and lower right abdomen.
Ly suffered two gunshot wounds, to the abdomen and the arm.
In the ambulance, Ly told a paramedic, “My friend’s husband did this.” She died in the operating room.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5.
Twenty percent of all domestic violence homicide victims are not intimate partners themselves, but family, friends, neighbors or people who intervened, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Immigrant victims of domestic violence face distinct obstacles to safety, including language barriers, isolation from the larger community and the threat of deportation in certain cases.
If you or someone you know needs a safe place to talk because of domestic abuse, you can call Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County at 425-25-ABUSE (425-252-2873). The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen