Reporting Heather Brown
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An Oakdale man accused of going on a deadly shooting spree made his first court appearance Wednesday morning.
Nhan Tran, 34, is charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder and assault. Investigators say he opened fire on drivers around 6 p.m. Monday night in an Oakdale neighborhood at random, hitting a total of four vehicles. Devin Aryal, 9, was shot in the head and killed in his mother’s minivan. His mom was shot in the arm. Another woman in another car was shot as well.
Court documents state Tran was wearing a backpack filled with numerous bullets, two large knives and two full magazines. A 9mm handgun was found six to eight feet from him when police say he was caught.
Those documents also say Tran admitted to shooting at two vehicles, including the minivan Devin Arryal was in when he was killed. Investigators say Tran also admitted to reloading and trying to shoot more.
At his court hearing, Tran asked for a mental health evaluation, which was ordered by the judge. His bail was set at $2 million.
Prosecutors did not offer a motive at today’s hearing.
“It’s what makes these cases so awfully hard,” said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. “We all understand robbery, we all understand theft, we don’t understand random acts of violence and I don’t know if we ever will.”
Investigators who talked with him say they don’t think he knew the victims. Police say Tran used a handgun that he owned legally.
They say he has no criminal or mental health history. Tran had lived with his parents around the corner from where the shooting began.
Devin Aryal and his mom were taking their usual route home from daycare when gunshots were fired through the window of their minivan. Melissa Aryal drove to a grocery store parking lot for help.
Devin Aryal was transported to Regions Hospital, where he died at 6:45 p.m. A preliminary autopsy ruled his death as a homicide, with the cause of death being a gunshot wound to the head.
She told us yesterday her only son was a fourth grader who loved science, math and soccer. He dreamed of being an astronaut.
“He’s just a remarkable boy. He loved life, loved everybody, and everybody loved him,” she said. “This senseless shooting has to stop. He was just a baby, a little child gone.”
Karen Knoblauch, 68, was shot in another vehicle while driving with her three granddaughters. She said she lost part of her finger and was shot in her leg.
She said this whole experience has been life-changing and they have so much to be grateful for. Their prayers go out to the Aryal family.
A witness at the scene told police she was traveling south on Hadley Avenue and turned onto 7th Street when she heard “popping” noises and saw a man standing in the middle of the street shooting a handgun.
She said the man shot about five times at one vehicle, turned and fired at another vehicle and fired several shots at her vehicle as she drove by. She said she could hear the gunshots hitting her windshield. One bullet entered the windshield and struck the front passenger seat head rest.
Police say they located Tran at the end of a business parking lot at 486 Hale Ave. N. Located near Tran was a 9mm handgun, which was loaded with a bullet in the chamber. Police say Tran was wearing a fanny pack around his waist that had numerous 9mm bullets.
Tran was placed under arrest.
Authorities are still searching for answers on what led up to the shooting.
Tuesday night, there was a community-wide candlelight vigil at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Oakdale. They sang songs and prayed for families who’ve lost loved ones to random acts of violence.