GANG TRIAL

Man Describes Annandale Slaying of Friend

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It might have started with a fight at Springfield Mall. Then came the revenge -- even more violent -- and one young man was dead.

The storyline was standard issue in gang warfare in Northern Virginia, but this time, the rivalry was between two Asian gangs. Henh Ngo, 22, a Springfield resident and a reputed member of the Asian Dragon Family, went on trial yesterday for murder in the Dec. 27, 2002, shooting of Ngoc Quy Doan Nguyen, 21, outside a pool hall in Annandale.

Asian gangs became prominent in Northern Virginia in the mid-1980s but have attracted less attention in recent years, eclipsed by the growth -- and violence -- of Latino gangs. Police said there are still home invasions and robberies attributed to Asian gangs but few homicides. Ngo's trial promises a rare glimpse into how Asian gangs are resolving their feuds away from the spotlight of better-known criminal outfits.

Nguyen, of Burke, was shot once in the head as he stood beside his car in the parking lot of the Happi Billiards Cafe, at 7127 Little River Turnpike. The shooter then turned and pumped two shots into Nguyen's car, where two friends sat inside. The friends were unhurt, and the first of them testified yesterday.

Phuc Nguyen said that he, Ngoc Nguyen and Hoan Le had been shooting pool at Happi Billiards and then walked outside about 10 p.m. Phuc Nguyen acknowledged that he had friends in a gang known as Asian Young and Dangerous, or AYD, but denied that he was a member.

Phuc Nguyen also said he knew that Ngo and another man had been jumped and beaten at Springfield Mall about a week before. He said he believed that the two had been beaten by members of AYD.

He knew Ngo only by his nickname, "Phi Lu," or "Fat Guy," Phuc Nguyen said. Police said Ngo was 5-foot-11 and weighed 290 pounds at the time of the shooting.

"He's a well-known guy," Phuc Nguyen said of Ngo. "Everybody call him by his nickname."

As Phuc Nguyen and his two friends were leaving the pool hall, he said, a man named Ngoc Le asked him if he was a member of AYD. He denied it.

"My boy got jumped at Springfield Mall," Phuc Nguyen recalled Ngoc Le as saying, adding that he was told, "You tell 'em [AYD] to come up here and bring what they got."

The three men proceeded to Ngoc Nguyen's Honda Prelude. Phuc Nguyen and Hoan Le climbed into the front and rear passenger seats. After backing out, Ngoc Nguyen realized that he had forgotten his glasses and went back inside.

While the two passengers waited with the motor running, Phuc Nguyen said, Henh Ngo walked up to his window and knocked on it. He was with two or three other men. Phuc Nguyen said that he did not make eye contact with Ngo and that Ngo walked to the front of the car.

Ngoc Nguyen arrived. Phuc Nguyen said he heard Ngo ask, "Are you AYD?" and then saw him shoot once at his friend. Then, he said, Ngo fired twice into the windshield, missing both passengers.

Defense attorneys Jonathan Shapiro and Peter D. Greenspun said the case rested solely on the credibility of the car's two passengers. And they used one of the first officers on the scene to attack Phuc Nguyen's account.

Former officer Curtis Cooper testified that he was the first to interview Phuc Nguyen at the scene. He said that when he asked Phuc Nguyen who had shot his friend, he said he didn't know.

Cooper said he took Phuc Nguyen to the Mason District Station and interviewed him again. He said Phuc Nguyen then told him that 10 to 12 men had approached the vehicle and that Henh Ngo had knocked on the window and done the shooting.

Shapiro, in his opening statement, said that Phuc Nguyen and Hoan Le were members of AYD, were resistant to cooperate with police and hadn't seen the shooter clearly. If they had, Shapiro argued, "Why didn't they scream 'Henh Ngo! Henh Ngo!' " to identify the suspect police should be looking for.

Ngo soon moved to the Toronto area, where last year police investigated him, under a different name, on suspicion of being a marijuana dealer. When they learned that he was wanted in Fairfax for murder, he was arrested in February 2005.


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