Police ask for help in catching murder suspect

DOWNEY - Normally, Ly Cong Tran would have been home with his family in Westminster by 7 p.m. But after falling behind on his mortgage payments and facing the possibility of losing his home, Tran decided to extend the hours of his Downey-based drinking water shop.The decision would cost him his life. Tran, 45, was the victim of a deadly robbery inside Downey Drinking Water, 13105 Lakewood Blvd., on May 15. According to police, a man wearing a baseball cap down over his eyes and brandishing a handgun entered the store at about 7:45 p.m. Surveillance video shows a brief struggle before the two disappear out of camera range. A brief scuffle can be heard and then a single gunshot rings out. Police say Tran was shot in the head. Video shows the suspect heading out the store with what appears to be a red box tucked underneath his arm. Witnesses last saw him running towards Lakewood Boulevard, away from the strip mall. As police turned to the public and media for help in finding the suspect, Tran's family grieved and finalized funeral plans. Tran was married with two sons, family members said. The youngest was 10, and the other had recently started classes at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. "They were a very close family, very loving," said Becky Tran, Ly Tran's sister-in-law. "Even for dinner, if one was not home, they waited. (Tran) was very much a family man." Becky Tran said the family was having financial difficulties and were at risk of losing their Westminster home. Ly Tran was looking into a loan modification, but in the meantime he extended the hours of his store, which sells drinking water and agua frescas. "He normally closes the store at 7 (p.m.), but to save the house he wanted to open the store more, to try to make the house payment," Becky Tran said. "He loved his home. He loved his yard. He worked very hard because he was afraid to lose his house." Family members said this was the second time Ly Tran had been robbed at the store, which he had owned for six years. The first time, they said, the assailant took the money and ran. Ly Tran returned home that night "very shaky and scared," relatives said. After the first robbery, Ly Tran's wife - who asked that her name be withheld - urged her husband to install surveillance cameras. "They couldn't afford it, but they made monthly payments. Ly installed it by himself," Becky Tran said. The Tran family is still struggling with Ly Tran's death. According to Becky Tran, his wife suffers from nightmares and his oldest son has refused to watch the store's surveillance video, which has been released to the media in hopes of generating leads. A private funeral will take place today at "the cheapest mortuary we could find," relatives said. "We know everyone cares, but I don't think we're capable enough to deal with (an outpouring of support)," Becky Tran said. "We want to be in private right now." Relatives hope to raise money for Ly Tran's family by establishing a trust fund in the near future. Ly Tran was the family's sole provider. "He had a very big heart," Becky Tran said. "Every day he go to work and go straight home. Everything he do with the family. He didn't go out to the bar or stuff like that. He liked to be with his family. "This has hit us very, very hard." The suspect is described as a male Hispanic, 30-40 years old, 5 feet 5 to 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a medium build and a medium complexion. He was wearing a dark-colored V-neck pullover shirt and blue jeans. He was also wearing a distinctive cap with the letters "SF" on the front. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Detective Aubuchon at (562) 904-2361 or Detective Hernandez at (562) 904-2368.

********** Published: May 22, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 5

NewsEric Pierce