Family stricken with grief at shooting victim death in Burnaby
The mother and brother of victim Diem Huynh are overcome with grief at a makeshift memorial at a Burnaby sushi restaurant where Huynh and Huong (Andy) Tran were shot to death Sunday in the first of a series of incidents that culminated in the police shooting death of Angus David Mitchell, a person of interest in the shooting. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
For five days now, a four-year-old girl has been asking her grandmother, "Where's my mom?"
But what do you say to a preschooler whose mother has been gunned down at her workplace where she toiled as a server and cashier for no apparent reason?
"The hardest thing right now is how (to) tell the truth to my granddaughter," the woman said in Vietnamese through an interpreter Thursday at the murder the scene.
Single mother Diem Huynh was murdered Sunday inside Royal Oak Sushi House in Burnaby along with the business's owner Huong (Andy) Tran.
The senseless crime culminated Wednesday when Mounties in Maple Ridge shot and killed Angus David Mitchell - the same man sought in connection to the double homicide at the sushi restaurant.
Thursday, Huynh's mother and brother - who didn't want to be identified - visited the restaurant where she was murdered. A week ago it was bustling with patrons; the windows are now draped in paper and floral bouquets line the exterior in tribute to the dead.
The grieving mother burned incense and placed money on a plate at the site as she performed a Buddhist ritual and prayed for her daughter's passage into heaven.
She said she thought her 35-year-old daughter was in a car accident after she didn't return home by 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
She kept calling the restaurant late into the evening, but no one picked up. Eventually, she learned of her daughter's tragic fate from police.
Huynh leaves behind a young daughter who she's raised on her own since the child was six-months-old. In between sobs, the victim's mother said she doesn't know how to tell her granddaughter her mom is gone.
She remembers her own daughter as someone who was always smiling and joking, and said she can't understand why anyone would kill her.
Homicide investigators have not determined a motive for the double murder.
After Mitchell shot and seriously injured a former landlord Tuesday, police revealed a similar high-powered hunting rifle was used in the murders at the sushi restaurant.
Homicide Sgt. Jennifer Pound said investigators are waiting for forensic information to confirm the same weapon was used in both the restaurant murders and Tuesday's shooting.
Burnaby RCMP issued an urgent public safety warning the morning following the attack on the landlord. Describing Mitchell as "armed and extremely" dangerous, police told anyone who has had conflicts with him in the past to go into hiding.
Less than an hour after the warning was issued, however, a Maple Ridge resident called police to report a parked vehicle matching the description of Mitchell's green 1994 Aerostar van on 216th Street near 132nd Avenue.
Mounties spent the next two hours setting up a perimeter around the rural neighbourhood, using a loudspeaker to ask Mitchell to surrender.
Instead, police said the gunman "engaged" officers and a shootout ensued, ending in the 26-year-old's death.
Earlier that day, Burnaby RCMP Insp. Tim Shields said Mitchell's former landlord evicted him from a Vancouver residence about six months ago.
In the months between his eviction and the attack on his landlord, a complaint was filed to police against Mitchell. He was never charged with a crime and Shields wouldn't elaborate on the complaint.
During that same period, Mitchell also legally purchased the rifle.
Police wouldn't address questions Thursday about how he would have obtained a licence to buy a gun - which is issued by RCMP - if he had a police complaint against him.
Mitchell was licenced by the provincial government as a security guard since 2008. He worked at firms in Victoria and Vancouver but was fired from several jobs in both cities. He was described by a former employer as a "loose cannon" with anger issues.
A Facebook page, apparently belonging to Mitchell, displays a post where he lashes out at the president of Victoria-based Themis Security Services, where he had worked.
"Every time I had dealt with you I have showed you patience and regard as the 'president' of the company and look at what you do.?" the post reads. "You (expletive) up your own payroll so I cannot get paid on time . don't you ever try and talk to me as if you can give me an order."
Little is know about Mitchell, or his background. On a job application, he noted he'd taken his high-school equivalent at a school in Surrey, but it couldn't be confirmed Thursday that he completed it. It's believed he attended high school in Vernon, B.C., however, a vice-principal at Clarence Fulton Secondary wouldn't confirm Mitchell attended there, citing privacy laws.
A former classmate who attended that school, however, posted on Facebook his shock at his death. "What a crazy situation! good thing he didn't (sic) kill anymore ppl."