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

Categories: Homicide Files
oakdale shooting rect.jpg
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.jpeg

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:

devin aryal.jpg
Tim Nelson on Twitter
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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And now this piece of shit killer is our problem and we'll have to feed and house and care for him for the next 20 years, minimum. I say we give the experts a week to figure out of he's legitimately nuts, if not, a week to prepare his defense. Since there is no defending what he did, and there being no cure for homicidal maniacs that I know of, this monster needs to be put down like the rabid dog that he is. That's the real issue here. Don't like the punishment? Don't commit the goddamn crime.  

green23 topcommenter

Two things. 

First, this guy was a "law-abiding citizen"exercising his 2nd Amendment rights right up until the moment that he started shooting at anything that moved. He had a carry permit, and was supposed to be part of that "well-regulated militia" that was supposed to be there to stop people like him. Every gun nut in the nation would've defended this guy's right to carry before this. Now, however, he's just a nut. Who could have possibly predicted this? 

Second, as the story points out, there was an armed citizen right across the street. It did not prevent this from happening. 

The Wild West logic of gun fetishists is being tested in the real world, and it's coming up hollow. Some say laws won't stop this. Do laws against car theft prevent cars from being stolen? Why do we see this "zero-sum logic" in the case of guns? 

Laws against driving drunk are ignored by alcoholics. Should we repeal those laws? They certainly don't prevent drunk people from driving, do they? Let's let the "good drunks" drive unmolested, right? And, when they kill or maim someone, the "good drunk" can instantly be transformed into a "bad drunk". That "bad drunk" should never have been driving, but let's not punish the "good drunks" for one 'bad drunk's" behaviour. That would be wrong.


It's still going to happen. Limiting the bullets we can carry or banning guns all together isn't going to stop the madness. Bath, MA disaster was a terrorist attack on an elementary school killing nearly 40 and mostly children. We can shut up the media just a little bit. I like to think about it as a moment of silence. This man is now a celebrity for a moment in his life. Now people know him, he see's his face on tv. He is content. Other people are going to fallow until we give the media a moment of silence to morn the dead out of respect. Seriously, how many victims of recent massacres do you remember, but you remember the psychopaths. I honestly don't know any Ted Bundy's or Manson's victims? Fame is their incentive for this. I prey for the him, I prey for the parents involved and I prey for the city of Oakdale. I've lived there for a few years and loved the town. It's a shame.


What can you possibly say about this?  It can happen ANYWHERE.  Mall, grocery store, school, church, STREET.  A child was murdered.  Taken from his family.  Forget the punishment, nothing's enough.

What are we going to do about this?

I also kind of have a problem with Oakdale's law enforcement continually pounding the word "random."  It really isn't random.  First you need a gun.  Then you need a crazy motherfucker who thinks nothing of killing people. 


thoughts and prayers to the family

Stuttering John
Stuttering John

Omgz guys lets all jump on this story and use it as a platform for banning guns. You readers think you could do that for me?

Jeff Robertson
Jeff Robertson

Cuz he had a gun otherwise he'd be trying to stab or punch the cars and a 10 year old would not be dead. Motive. I have a gun so I'll shoot.

swmnguy topcommenter

Not enough guns in Oakdale, apparently.  The poor kid should have been packing, right?  Or every mom should be driving an armored car?

Can we be done with this craziness?  When is Enough going to be Enough?  [Drumming fingers, whistling, looking around...]

MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@lucianokanapapiki So because murders happen we shouldn't make murder illegal?   Your logic is stupid.  Obviously changing the gun laws won't stop all violence, it will just stop some violence.  Your media blaming is the stupidest thing.  We need a media.  We need to know about a crime to learn from it.  We don't know the names of the victims because being a victim ends your story.  You don't put a victim on trial.  There is nothing a victim can do to stay in the news.  No one or their family wants to be famous for being a victim of a crime.  Fame was not the incentive for Ted Bundy, he was driven by dark sexual urges and mental problems.  Fame is not what drives criminals, that is a bullshit idiotic talking point.  Crime is caused by youth, poverty, and opportunity not fame.   Charlie Manson might be the rare criminal that wanted to be famous however there haven't been many Charlie Manson's before or after his crimes so I'd say his uniqueness is what made him so famous.  Finally citing Charlie Manson as an example of a killer whose victims you don't know is amazingly stupid.   Charlie Manson didn't kill anyone.  He ordered others to kill.  Also, one of their victims was a famous movie star, Sharon Tate.  Obviously you have strong beliefs but from your statement I can tell they have no basis in reality.  Maybe read what an expert has to say about what causes crime before just pulling random words out of the air to make your point.  Obviously you have no idea who Charlie Manson is if you think no one remembers who he killed.  Try wikipidia, you don't have to stop learning things.  Maybe try reading a little something before posting. 


@Starquest "Random" refers to the victim selection.  Not the perpetrator.


@swmnguy And I guess Obama's gun bill would have prevented this.


@swmnguy Can people please stop politicizing everything while the blood is still drying?


@Biddly @swmnguy What does immigration have to do with this other than  thinly-veiled racism?

swmnguy topcommenter

@keny1  Who cares about Obama's gun bill, whatever it is?  I'm saying, the gun worked perfectly.  And that's the problem.  When people make the cynical analogy to cars killing more people every year, they're hoping nobody remembers that cars have a main purpose that does not involve killing people.  Guns do not.  Nobody has a problem with sane, law-abiding people who have guns and own them safely and properly.  That never makes the paper and it shouldn't because it's not news.  The problem is that the industry that profits by convincing people our entire socio-economic and cultural environment has gone down the tubes and we all need to buy their products has prevented any sensible safety regulation of their product.  I'm sure this guy came by his gun either completely lawfully, or in some way no legal restriction would have impeded.  Because there are so many of the damned things floating around.  The answer is obvious, Keny, and no current politician will say the obvious because they're all corrupted and afraid.

swmnguy topcommenter

@swee2th    This is an inherently political issue.  I can't "politicize" it.  It's already politicized. The police chief of Oakdale already did that, within an hour of the incident.  There are those who refuse to do the basic obvious things needed to prevent this from happening on a daily basis, and they refuse to do it for the love of money and political leverage.  They need to be named and shamed.  To say "let's not politicize this" is to say, "I'm just fine with this going on, and we'd better not say anything about the commercial and political interests that sabotage every effort to prevent this sort of thing from happening." 

Is it too early, "while the blood is still drying," to use your turn of phrase, to say something like, "This should never have happened and we need to do something to keep this from happening, over and over and over?"


@swee2th @swmnguy yeah fuck politics and policy.  that can only serve to change things.   now is NOT the time to talk about changing anything.   the blood is still drying.  we need to let it dry completely before we decide that we're not going to change anything.  if only there were more guns in that snowbank and minivan.  someone could have totally shot that guy after he shot that kid.   


@swmnguy @swee2th I agree with what you're saying, just not the sarcastic way you said it to begin with. I'm often guilty of the same sentiment though. No harm, no foul.

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