Hours before her only child was killed, Kim Tran talked on the phone with the man now charged with fatally shooting her son.
Tran had earlier texted Mohammed Awde’s wife — the mother of her 7-year-old granddaughter — asking if it was OK for the girl to stay out past the 8 p.m. time that Tran had earlier that day promised to have the girl back. Unknown to her, Tran explained in her text that her son, Kevin Nguyen, and his daughter had planned a holiday outing to look at lights after Nguyen got off work that Dec. 22 night.
“She said, ‘OK, I’ll let you know in 10 minutes,’ ” Tran said. “After 10 minutes, nothing. Fifteen minutes, nothing. After almost 20 minutes, of course, they’re getting antsy. Kevin said, ‘Ok, well she’s not calling us back so I guess it’s OK. Let’s go.’ ”
Five minutes after the father and daughter left, the girl’s mother finally texted Tran back, informing her that she and her husband still wanted the girl home by 8 p.m.
“I said, Well, let me try to call Kevin and see if he can turn around but he didn’t answer the phone,” Tran said.
Around 7 p.m., Awde, the stepfather, called Tran.
“I spent 20 minutes on the phone with him,” Tran said. “I apologized I don’t know how many times to him that I wasn’t able to keep my word. I even promised him from now on it won’t happen again because I’ll be on top of everything. I just wanted to keep the peace.”
Less than three hours later, her son would be dead, shot in the street after dropping his daughter off at her mother’s home, and Awde would be jailed on suspicion of murder.
Court documents indicate Awde had waited two hours in the garage for Nguyen to bring his stepdaughter home, then confronted Nguyen for not respecting the girl’s curfew. He told police that he shot Nguyen after the man pointed his finger in Awde’s face. making him fear for his life.
Tran said Awde didn’t seem angry during their telephone conversation and that the two had chatted about his mother’s recent trip to Lebanon, and even made arrangements about when Tran could pick up her granddaughter on Christmas Day.
“It was fine,” Tran said. “That’s why I don‘t understand. I just don‘t understand what happened. I don’t think anyone can have any explanation. It’s just that he wanted to kill someone.”
Awde was released from Tarrant County Jail on Thursday after his defense attorneys successfully petitioned to have his bond lowered from $250,000 to $50,000.
Though the 7-year-old girl has been living with her maternal grandparents since Awde’s release from jail, Child Protective Services has since amended a safety plan prohibiting the 26-year-old murder suspect from having any contact with his stepdaughter.
Tran said her son had an amicable relationship with his ex-girlfriend and had always been free to see his daughter. But since the girl’s mother had married Awde in August, she said Nguyen’s contact with his daughter became more difficult.
Where he once texted the girls’ mother when he wanted to speak to his daughter, now any requests had to be made through Awde, she said.
So concerned by the changes, Tran said, her son was looking forward to graduating pharmacy school in Maine in 2016 so he could seek custody of his daughter.
“He was planning on opening a pharmacy store, provide a good life for her,” Tran said.
Natalie Flores, Nguyen’s girlfriend, and her two children had accompanied Nguyen and his daughter to Dallas.
They were returning home when Nguyen and his mother finally talked and Nguyen learned that his daughter had been wanted back home.
Upon arriving at the home in the 3800 Fox Run Drive in Fort Worth, Nguyen had not even put the car into park when Awde approached on foot, yelling, Flores said.
Flores said Nguyen let his daughter out and she went inside her house. The two men continued to argue outside the car while Flores remained with her children inside the car.
“We heard the shots,” Flores said. “That’s when I got out of the car. I yelled at Mohammed, ‘What did you do?’ All he said to me is, ‘He’s OK. Get back into the car.’”
Flores said she ran to Nguyen, who had slid down her car onto his knees.
“I tried to wake him up. I was like, ‘Babe. Wake up. Wake up.’ I was slapping him a little bit in the face. He wouldn’t move or respond,” Flores said.
Tran said her son had been struck twice, once in the face and once in the chest.
The third shot missed him, traveling through the back driver’s side door of Flores’ car and lodging into the back seat near where her 4-year-old son had been sleeping.
“My son was laying down,” Flores said. “It was like probably three of four inches from where his head was laying at.”