Edmonton shooter killed wife and her family members, but spared 2 children: police
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, January 2, 2015 3:20PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 2, 2015 10:56PM EST
Authorities say the gunman responsible for one of the worst mass murders in Edmonton’s history spared the lives of two young children when he went on a killing spree earlier this week.
At a news conference Friday, police shed new light on the shooting rampage that left nine dead, including three generations of one family.
Authorities confirmed the identity of 53-year-old Phu Lam, who they say is the only person responsible for the deaths, including his own.
Authorities say Lam shot seven people, including his wife, Thuy Tien Truong, 35, and her son, Elvis Lam, 8, at a home in northeast Edmonton.
The five others have been identified as:
- Thanh Ha Thi Truong, 33 – Thuy Tien Truong’s sister
- Valentina Nguyen, 3 – Thanh Ha Thi’s daughter
- Thi Dau Le, 55 – Mother to sisters Thanh Ha Thi and Thuy Tien
- Van Dang Truong, 55 – Father of the sisters, Thi Dau Le’s estranged husband
- Viet Nguyen, 41 – male acquaintance of Thuy Tien Truong
Lam later shot another woman in a southwest Edmonton home.
He died of a self-inflicted wound at a business in Fort Saskatchewan on Tuesday morning, police said.
Mark Neufeld, acting deputy chief of the Edmonton Police Service, told reporters Friday that the motive of the shooter is still unknown but that the seven murders were “planned and deliberate.”
Two children ‘spared’
Neufeld said police have determined that the murders of the seven victims occurred sometime between 3:45 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sunday, but it’s “not completely clear” if they were all in the house when the killings began.
“We believe the killings took place within a reasonably close period of time,” Neufeld said.
Police have also determined that on Monday at 10 a.m. -- after the seven killings had taken place -- Lam dropped off a 1-year-old believed to be his daughter with Thuy Tien Truong, and an 8-month-old who is believed to be the son of Thanh Ha Thi Truong, at a relative’s home.
“There’s a very good possibility that those two young children were in the house in the north-end when the homicides took place and for whatever reason, the two children were spared,” Neufeld said.
Then on Monday evening, 37-year-old Cyndi Duong was shot dead in a south Edmonton home.
“It was at this time that police were contacted, and initially became involved,” Neufeld said.
Police said Friday that there was a relationship between the Duong and Lam families, however, there was no specific connection between Phu Lam and Cyndi Duong.
Police said that Lam came to Duong’s home “in order to locate somebody who he believed would be there at that time.”
The person wasn’t there, and Duong was subsequently shot by Lam, Neufeld said. Her husband and three young children were home at the time.
Lam was later found dead of an apparent suicide at a restaurant in Fort Saskatchewan, which is approximately 31 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
Court documents obtained by CTV News indicate that Lam had a lengthy criminal record.
In 2012, Lam was accused of assault and seven counts of threatening death.
Some of the complainants that Lam threatened are among the shooting victims, Neufeld said Friday.
Court records show that Thuy-Tien Truong testified in 2012 that Lam planned to kill her and her family but wasn’t able to buy a gun. She told the court that Lam grew upset when he discovered that their son was not his biological child.
Truong was granted a protection order but it was revoked two months later.
Police say Lam eventually purchased a stolen 9-millimetre gun, which he used to carry out his deadly threat this week.
In 2002, he pleaded guilty to drug offences. In 2001, Lam twice pleaded guilty to communication with a prostitute, and in the same year was accused of careless use of a firearm.
Records show that charges initially laid against Lam in 2012 were never tried, but stayed one month later, after Truong and her family members retracted their allegations.
However, the courts ordered Lam to have no contact with the complainants he had been accused of threatening.
Alberta’s prosecution office says the investigation into the 2012 charges was thorough and comprehensive, but the Crown was not satisfied that there was likelihood of a conviction.
Court documents also revealed that Lam was $500,000 in debt and had filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Lam blamed gambling problems for his financial problems.
With files from CTV Edmonton and The Canadian Press