Nhan Lap Tran allegedly opens fire on random cars in Oakdale, kills 9-year-old boy [UPDATE]

The minivan driven by a mother whose son was shot and killed sits in the Rainbow parking lot last night.
The minivan driven by a mother whose son was shot and killed sits in the Rainbow parking lot last night.

-- Scroll to bottom of post for updates --

Around 6 p.m. last night, a 34-year-old man opened fire on random cars near the intersection of Hadley Avenue North and 7th Street North in Oakdale, injuring at least two and killing a 9-year-old boy.

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The boy was riding in a minivan with his mother. She was shot in the arm and is expected to survive; he was fatally shot in the head. After she and her son were shot, the mother pulled into the parking lot of a nearby Rainbow Foods for help.

Authorities haven't yet disclosed the identity of the shooter, who was arrested without incident about 10 minutes after shots first rang out, but his parents live within a block of Hadley and 7th.

"Neighbors said a retired couple live in the home, and the couple's son either lives there or visits often," the PiPress reports.

The PiPress also details how the gunman's third victim was shot:

The third victim -- a 68-year-old Oakdale woman who relatives identified only as "Karen" -- pulled up to the corner of Seventh and Hadley, when the man began shooting from a nearby snowbank, according to the woman's granddaughter, who asked not to be identified.

Six rounds struck the vehicle, and the woman was hit in the finger and leg. Her finger was being amputated at Regions Hospital late Monday, the granddaughter said.

"She said her leg started hurting, and my three sisters were in the car; they just yelled, 'Go!' " the granddaughter said.

Fox 9 reports that the gunman's motives remained unclear last night.

"It's a horrible situation and certainly lends itself to the concern we have about gun control and all the other kinds of issues being addressed right now throughout the country," Oakdale Police Chief Mike Sullivan told Fox.

Oakdale Mayor Carmen Sarrack is quoted in the Star Tribune as offering this response:

It's sick. What can you say when a 10-year-old is killed? ... You just feel so bad for the family. They were just out driving by on a February night. It's just a shame. People here are devastated that this could happen in our city, especially when the nation is grappling with gun control.

:::: UPDATE ::::

The Pioneer Press identifies the gunman as Nhan Lap Tran. Here's Tran's mugshot:

Nhan Lap Tran allegedly opens fire on random cars in Oakdale, kills 9-year-old boy [UPDATE]

Meanwhile, WCCO provides a bit of information about the murdered boy:

A spokesperson for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District told WCCO Tuesday morning that the victim is a fourth grade boy who attended Oakdale Elementary School. School officials said a crisis team and extra staff will be at the school Tuesday to provide any help needed to students and staff.

:::: UPDATE II ::::

The 9-year-old allegedly murdered by Nhan Lap Tran has been identified as Devin Aryal. Here's a photo of him:

The Star Tribune spoke with Devin's mother, Missy Aryal, about the moments leading up to Devin's death. Here's some of what she said:

In an interview from her home, Melissa Aryal said she and Devin were just leaving day care, when the shooting began.

"He was so proud because he did all his homework at day care," said the mom, who goes by Missy. "He wanted to come home and play for the evening."

She said they both heard a noise under the hood, and as she braked to turn onto Hadley Avenue, she felt her arm go numb. She swerved into the Rainbow parking lot a half-block away, called 911, got out and then saw Devin slumped in the back seat.

In a Pioneer Press interview, Missy said Devin was still breathing after he was shot -- "Just hearing his breath, I had hope," she said -- but doctors at Regions Hospital later informed her Devin had been fatally shot in the brain.

"He was my baby," Melissa said.

Meanwhile, Tran is expected to be charged with second-degree murder and assault tomorrow. An MPR report provides some details about what eyewitnesses saw as he randomly shot at cars yesterday evening:

[Neighborhood resident Derek Lowen] said he also thought the shots were firecrackers at first. Then he heard more.

"That time I knew for sure it was a gun so I went out the front room and looked out our front window and saw the guy walking erratically in the street and immediately went and grabbed one of our own firearms for self defense but of course didn't need to use it because he was already done shooting," Lowen said.

Lowen said he thinks the suspect fired as many as 20 rounds from a large caliber handgun. After shooting the suspect turned around and walked backward several times, he said.

"It was like he was trying to make sure there were no witnesses that had seen him," Lowen said.

But the suspect didn't run away.

"He walked slowly. He was actually almost calm -- it was kind of scary how calm he was," Lowen said.

During a press conference this afternoon, Oakdale officers said Tran, who has no criminal history and no apparent history of mental health problems, appears to have a valid gun permit.

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