A police car sits at a roped off area at Seventh Street and Hadley Avenue in Oakdale, Minn. on Feb. 11.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Pioneer Press, Ginger Pinson
Walking down the middle of the street near his parents' home in Oakdale, a man randomly fired a handgun at passing motorists -- killing a 9-year-old boy and injuring the boy's mother and another woman, police and witnesses said.
Nhan Lap Tran, 34, was arrested Monday, Feb. 11, on suspicion of murder and assault with a firearm, according to Washington County jail logs. The arrest was made at a Hale Avenue North address blocks away from the shootings.
Minnesota court records show no criminal history for Tran. He will likely face formal charges Wednesday morning, according to Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.
Witnesses say a man was shooting at cars randomly as he calmly walked through a residential area near Rainbow Foods
at 7053 10th St. N. shortly after 6 p.m. Monday.
Cheryl Russell, 55, of Oakdale described a man in dark clothes who seemed "nonchalant" as he strolled down the block firing a handgun.
About 15 shots were fired, she said.
The 9-year-old boy was identified as Devin Aryal by his mother, Melissa Aryal, 39. The mother was shot in the arm, while the boy was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, witnesses said.
The boy died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, according to Oakdale Police Chief Bill Sullivan. The mother is expected to recover, Sullivan said.
The mother pulled into the Rainbow store parking lot with the back window and both rear tires of her minivan shot out, according to witnesses.
Devin Aryal was a fourth grader at
Oakdale Elementary School, according to North St. Paul-Oakdale-Maplewood school district spokeswoman Jennifer McNeil.
"Devin was a special boy who lived life to the fullest, a happy-go-lucky kid who was full of facts," she said. "He was a good friend to everyone."
District social workers, counselors and psychologists will be available for children who need "a trusted adult" to talk to, McNeil said.
Another woman, who was driving home after grocery shopping, turned the corner from Hadley
Avenue North onto Seventh Street North, to see a man firing on an SUV or minivan driving toward her.
"He was just walking diagonally down the middle of the street. Then he turned toward me and just started firing," said the visibly shaken woman, who asked that her name not be used.
Three bullet holes riddled the windshield of her SUV.
"He was just walking, not even running," she said. "It was crazy."
The woman sped off and was uninjured. Several neighbors near the corner said they heard two or three bursts of at least four shots each.
The other victim, a 68-year-old Oakdale woman identified by relatives only as "Karen," drove up to the corner of Seventh and Hadley as the man began shooting from a nearby snowbank, according to the woman's granddaughter, Celia Knoblach.
Six rounds struck the vehicle, and the 68-year-old was hit in her finger and leg. The finger was amputated late Monday at Regions Hospital.
"We're doing OK," Knoblach said Tuesday morning. "They did the amputation last night and it went OK."
She declined to identify her grandmother, and said authorities had asked witnesses not to comment on the investigation.
Another witness said he heard gunshots and watched the gunman run across Hadley into the parking lot of nearby Twin City Hardware. The witness said he saw the man roaming the parking lot, peering through the windows of vehicles, before disappearing on the far side of the lot.
Police arrested the man within a half-hour of the
initial call. In that time, Sullivan said the suspect fired on vehicles from several locations "over a several-block radius," starting with the first call just after 6 p.m.
Police recovered the suspect's handgun.
Late Monday, police converged on the man's parents' home in the 600 block of Guthrie Avenue North, a half-block from where the man was first reported firing at vehicles. Neighbors said a retired couple live in the home, and the couple's son either lives there or visits often.
At least a dozen gun casings littered Seventh Street, which runs through a residential area between Tartan Senior High School and a commercial area just west of Interstate 694 where the Rainbow and Twin City Hardware are located.
In a Tuesday morning news release, Oakdale authorities said there was "no active threat to public safety at this time."
Sullivan said the suspect was not known to police. Asked whether the man had any mental health issues, the chief said that was being investigated.
"It's a horrible situation, and certainly lends itself to the concern they have about gun control, and all the other kinds of issues that are being addressed right now throughout the country," he said.
Oakdale Mayor Carmen Sarrack said, "It's mind-boggling. Why does a 10-year-old child riding with his mom get killed for no reason at all?"
Oakdale authorities said Tuesday morning that the child was 9 years old.
"Until everything's sorted out, you hate to make too many statements, but it's a sad situation, and a sad commentary on our society," Sarrack added.
Copyright 2013 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service