Gun threats preceded deadly Grand Prairie shooting
07/24/2011 11:13 PM
08/01/2011 5:08 AM
GRAND PRAIRIE -- Trini Do filed a protective order against her husband in December because he threatened her with a gun three times last year, but she asked that it be dismissed weeks later, saying, "My husband promised to change and will work on our marriage for the kids," according to Tarrant County court documents.
Their ongoing problems, which police knew about, never went away.
About 7 p.m. Saturday, as a private birthday party for their son wound to a close at Forum Roller World, in the 1900 block of Great Southwest Parkway, Tan Do pulled out a handgun, shot his estranged wife to death and also shot and killed four members of her family before killing himself, authorities say.
Four others, none children, were injured.
"I thought it was balloons popping at first," Roller World owner Walt Hedrick said Sunday. "I never thought it would be a gun."
As Tan Do gunned down relatives at tables, Hedrick herded his employees into his office and watched behind a glass door leading to his office.
"He shot them all once and then walked down looking for someone else," Hedrick said. "When he didn't find that person, he walked back up to the tables and shot them all a second time."
Hedrick then heard one last shot.
"I looked out and saw that he was down," the owner said.
Trini and her sister, Michelle Ta, worked at the University of Texas at Arlington. Tan Do worked for a manufacturing company in Dallas, according to Tarrant court records.
According to the documents, Trini and Tan Do met in 1997 and married in 2000. They had a 3-year-old girl and a boy who will turn 11 next month. The birthday party was for him.
"His neighbor told me that they always had celebrations at home," Hedrick said.
Trini Ta Do, 29, filed for divorce in December 2008, but the case was dismissed four months later, in April 2009, because she did not pursue it.
In the documents filed last year, Trini Do stated that she and her husband had marital problems for years, but that things got severe in 2010.
She cited three incidents in seeking the protective order:
-- In early 2010, Tan Do dragged his wife into a closet, pulled out a gun, shot into the ceiling and threatened to shoot her if she left him.
-- Tan Do pulled out all his guns in early November after he became upset with his wife.
-- On Nov. 21, as their daughter cried, Tan Do dragged his wife into a bedroom, placed a pillow over her face and threatened to shoot her because she wanted a divorce.
The following month, Trini Do requested and received a protective order against her husband, which prohibited him from abusing, threatening or harassing her; possessing a firearm; or going near her house, her work or the homes of her parents or sister.
But on Jan. 5, 2001, against the advice of Julia Sladek, an assistant district attorney in the Protective Order Unit of the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, Trini Do requested that the order against her husband be dismissed.
“My husband promised to change and will work on our marriage for our kids,” Trini Do said in a sworn statement to the court, made in broken English. "I hope that I am making the right decision on the last chance and pray that he can really change. I am thankful for your service, all you helps and time. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Associate Judge Beth Poulous of the 324th District Court held a hearing, but refused to lift the order, saying “this injunction is necessary for the protection of Trini Ta Do.” She reset the case for 60 days later.
On March 9, Trini Do went back to court and again requested that the protective order be dismissed. This time, the court granted her wish and dismissed it. Also killed were Trini Do's sisters, Lynn Ta, 16, and Michelle Ta, 28, of Grand Prairie; brother Hien Ta, 21; and sister-in-law Thuy Nguyen, 25.
On Sunday, stuffed animals and a sign marked the tragedy outside Roller World, which opened for business at 2 p.m. as usual.
"It could have happened anywhere," Hedrick said. "He had a plan, and we ended up the place where he carried out this plan."
No one answered the door Sunday afternoon at the Dos' Grand Prairie home.
Grand Prairie police said Sunday in a news release that Tan Do had targeted his estranged wife and her relatives. About 30 people were in the rink for the party, and no employees were injured.
Police got the first call about shots fired at 7:10 p.m., but by the time they arrived minutes later, the drama had ended, they said.
The injured were transported to Methodist Dallas Medical Center and Medical City Dallas, police said. No information had been released on their conditions.
On Sunday, police crisis counselors and the department's police chaplain helped surviving victims, witnesses and family members.
Trini Do joined TMAC, formerly the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center at UT Arlington, in 2002 and served as a research associate handling financial records.
Michelle Ta joined the TMAC staff in October 2004 and earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from UT Arlington in August 2008. She also managed financial records for TMAC, which is based at UT Arlington's Automation & Robotics Research Institute campus in Fort Worth.
Drew Casani, TMAC regional director, remembered the women as good employees who were easy to work with. Casani said he helped organized a small wedding reception for Ta for her TMAC colleagues when she married about a year ago.
"They were without a doubt two of the hardest workers and best people I have ever worked with," Casani said.
Domingo Ramirez Jr.,
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