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Garland-area shooter motivated by hate, police say

Police are investigating a string of random shootings in the Dallas area as a hate crime spree after the suspected shooter told police he targeted Asians and Hispanics, Garland police said.

Thai-An Huu Nguyen, 22, was arrested last week on suspicion of aggravated assault after police said he fired at cars and then a restaurant during a three-day spree.

Three people were injured -- two in Garland and one in Richardson.

Nguyen told police during a confession the day after his arrest that he was targeting people from specific ethnic groups, according to a news release from Officer Joe Harn, a Garland police spokesman.

That has led prosecutors to pursue the incidents as hate crimes, which enhances the punishment to the first-degree felony level.

"His reasoning for targeting the two groups was that he had been involved in two separate altercations, one involving Asians and the other Hispanics several months prior and he was getting back at them," according to Harn.

Harn said not all of the victims were Asian or Hispanic, but detectives believe that Nguyen thought they were.