Crime & Courts

Police think shooting gang-related

It started out Saturday night as a private Christmas party, in space rented out in Da Nang Restaurant. It would end early Sunday morning in a fight that began in the restaurant dining room and moved into its parking lot, at 1556 N. Broadway. Outside, a series of gunshots woke neighbors and left one man fatally wounded and another seriously wounded. As cars scattered from the lot, one struck a third man, leaving him with a compound leg fracture.

Although police don't know what started the violence, they think it was gang-related because a number of gang members were present, Wichita police Lt. Todd Ojile said Monday. The incident involved two groups — but not rival gangs, Ojile said.

Also Monday, police identified the man who died as Eric Pou, 25, of Wichita.

The other shooting victim, a 24-year-old Wichita man, was upgraded from critical condition to fair condition by Monday afternoon. The third man, with the leg fracture, had also improved, from serious to fair condition by Monday evening.

Around the time the fight broke out, about 100 people were in the restaurant, Ojile said.

Tammy Phan, whose family owns the Vietnamese restaurant, said Monday that her parents told her they were inside when people started pushing each other on a makeshift dance floor. During the fight, two booth tables were broken.

Her parents turned on the lights and told those inside to leave, that the party was over, she said.

A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said she awoke to what sounded like about five firecrackers exploding in quick succession. She realized it was gunfire.

As motorists tried to rush out of the lot, their vehicles jammed the exits, prompting some cars to drive over the curb, she said.

She called 911. She estimated that four to five minutes passed between the first series of shots and a second series of gunfire, followed quickly by a third set of shots. She saw one person lying in the parking lot.

Phan said her parents were cleaning up inside when the shots rang out. A bullet came through a booth window several feet from where her fiance was standing, she said.

Ojile, the police lieutenant, gave this account:

The incident began with a fistfight in the restaurant, and the fight continued in the parking lot, where numerous shots were fired.

Police arrested three people in a vehicle leaving the area at a high speed, but they were not arrested for the shooting, he said.

About 10 to 15 minutes after the shooting, a vehicle with two shooting victims arrived at a hospital. Pou was pronounced dead at 5:10 a.m. Sunday, a police report said.

Although some witnesses have cooperated with investigators, others have not come forward, Ojile said. He asked that anyone with information about the shooting call police at 316-268-4191 or Crime Stoppers, 316-267-2111.

Phan said her parents have rented out the restaurant before and no violence broke out.

Now, she said, "We're all just shocked ... and saddened by what happened."

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