A 42-year-old bookie gunned down a loan shark who owed him money outside a Westminster nightclub as patrons celebrated Halloween in 2017, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday, but the defendant’s attorney said his client was acting in self-defense.
Minh Qung Tran is charged with murder and assault with a gun, along with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a gun. He is accused of killing 53-year-old Huy Phan and wounding Hai Ha, who was 47 at the time of the Oct. 28, 2017, shooting outside Club Bleu, 14160 Beach Blvd.
Tran was a bookie and Phan owed him money, and both men had romantic relationships with Juliana Trang, who is expected to testify in the trial, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera.
“The victim was not a good person,” Madera said, acknowledging Phan’s past convictions for domestic violence in California and in Minnesota in the mid-1990s.
It was an “uneventful” evening at Club Bleu with patrons celebrating the upcoming Halloween holiday until Tran surprised Phan, who was outside the club smoking with several others, Madera said.
“They were all standing around, smoking a cigarette, chit-chatting when the defendant shows up firing,” Madera said.
Tran fired six times, shooting Phan in the face and a shoulder, while also wounding Ha in the buttocks, Madera said.
Phan may have been a “bad man in the past,” but on the night of the shooting, “He was doing absolutely nothing when he was shot down in cold blood,” Madera said.
Tran allegedly claimed Phan “deserved to die” and “ripped off a lot of people,” Madera said.
The prosecutor showed jurors surveillance video of the shooting. Co-defendant Hung Khac Chau, 48, is charged as an accessory after the fact for driving Tran away from the shooting.
Tran’s attorney, Cameron Talley, said, “This is a case about a gunfight, and Minh Tran won.”
“The evidence is going to show it was self-defense,” Talley said.
Tran was “high on Xanax and tried to commit suicide” when police showed up to arrest him on Halloween 2017. Tran ran away from the shooting because he was from Vietnam and just assumed he would be charged with murder no matter what, which was also why he wanted to take his own life, Talley said.
Tran is expected to testify in the trial, Talley said.
Talley said Phan attempted to rape Trang at some point. The defense attorney referred to Phan as a “gun-toting, loan shark, wanna-be rapist.”
Phan was convicted in California of domestic violence in May of 2010, Talley said.
“Minh Tran knows he is violent,” Talley said.