Gunman opens fire at Texas roller rink, kills five, then himself
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (AP) - The owner of a Texas skating rink said Sunday that he pushed children out of harm's way when a parent suddenly opened fire on his estranged wife and her relatives at their son's birthday party.
The Saturday night shootings that left six dead, including the gunman, lasted just moments, said Forum Roller World owner Walt Hedrick.
"Kids were having fun and all of a sudden: `Bang! Bang! Bang!"' Hedrick said. "It was out of the clear blue. ... I didn't know what was going on."
The gunman, whose son was celebrating his 11th birthday, ordered the children to leave the snack area before he began shooting, said Grand Prairie detective John Brimmer. No children were killed, but four people were wounded in addition to the adults who died, he said.
Police said Tan Do, 35, of Grand Prairie and his wife were having ongoing marriage problems that investigators believe led to the shootings about 7 p.m. Saturday at the skating rink in Grand Prairie, about 20 miles west of Dallas. Some people at nearby businesses said they watched as some adults and children spilled from the rink in horror, some wearing roller skates.
"They just looked terrified," Cody Poston, a witness, told WFAA-TV, outside the rink that was festooned with birthday decorations inside. "There's several people crying. The kids were just kind of oblivious."
Do's son and his other child are safe and with other relatives, Brimmer said.
Police identified those killed as Do's estranged wife Trini Do, 29, of Grand Prairie; her sisters Lynn Ta, 16, and Michelle Ta, 28; her brother, Hien Ta, 21; and her sister-in-law, Thuy Nguyen, 25.
Brimmer said about 30 friends and relatives were attending the birthday party, some from out of town. It's unclear if the four wounded are relatives or friends of the family. They were taken to hospitals Saturday night with non-life threatening injuries, but information about them was not being released Sunday.
Hedrick said he decided to re-open his business Sunday afternoon because although he's shaken and mourns the loss of the victims, he knows the shooting was random.
"Roller skating for years and years has been the only place that an adult or parent would drop their little girl off on a Friday night and feel safe that we were going to take care of them, and that's exactly what we all do," Hedrick said. "... I'm not going to run from this. We're going to be open and we're going to be doing the same thing."
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.