Police Seek Motive in Oakdale 'Random' Shootings

Posted at: 02/12/2013 11:07 AM
Updated at: 02/12/2013 9:39 PM
By: Scott Theisen

Authorities in Oakdale are still trying to determine why a 34-year-old man allegedly shot at vehicles, killing a 9-year-old boy and injuring two women.

According to Oakdale Police Chief Bill Sullivan, Nhan Lap Tran was arrested on suspicion of murder and assault with a firearm around 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Tran was staying at his parent's house in the neighborhood where the shooting took place.

Sullivan says investigators believe Tran was randomly shooting at vehicles around the intersection of 7th Street and Hadley Avenue.

He says it appears Tran fired multiple rounds at four vehicles. A gun and ammunition were recovered after the shootings.

Tran had other ammunition with him when he was arrested, and it appears he legally owned the handgun he used in the shootings. Authorities say Tran has no history of mental illness that they know of.

Investigators interviewed Tran Monday night. They don't believe additional suspects are at large.

Sullivan is calling this a 'completely random' shooting. He says investigators have no reason to believe Tran knew any of the victims.


A witness says the suspect (Tran) appeared "nonchalant" as he strolled down the block, firing multiple times.

Fifty-five-year-old Cheryl Russell says she was on her couch about 6 p.m. when she saw a man in dark clothes walking on the street. Russell says the man seemed to be out for a stroll, but then began firing. Russell says she heard about 15 shots. Russell's husband called police.

A woman, later identified as 39-year-old Missy Aryal of Oakdale, was driving her minivan in the area while the suspect (Tran) was allegedly shooting. Both of her back tires were blown out.

One bullet hit Missy Aryal and multiple bullets hit her son, identified by family as Devin.

Missy Aryal pulled into the parking lot of Rainbow Foods, where witnesses say she got out of her van and began screaming for help.

She was wounded in the arm, and Devin was taken to Regions Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Missy Aryal was treated and released from the hospital.

A 68-year-old Oakdale woman in another vehicle is undergoing surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. She is expected to survive.

A team of counselors is talking to students at Oakdale Elementary, which is where Devin went to school.

District 622 spokeswoman Jennifer McNeil tells KSTP.com building and district social workers, school counselors and psychologists are helping students cope with the loss of their fourth-grade classmate.

McNeil says students are shaken up and "some of the kids are taking it pretty hard."

Meanwhile, a small group of about 10 people huddled in prayer at the Rainbow Foods parking lot Tuesday to pray for the victims. The Rev. Chris Duckworth led the group, and read Psalms of Lament: "Psalms where the people are crying out, 'Why God? Why?'" Duckworth said.
Duckworth, a senior pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in St. Paul, invited friends on Facebook to join him to pray. He said he didn't know any of the victims, but knew he had to give people a chance to grieve.
"Frankly, I didn't know what else to do," he said.

Tran will formally be charged Wednesday.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.