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Shooting spree leaves 1 dead

A mother of 10 is killed and two others are injured from Kaimuki to Aiea

LAST UPDATED: 3:44 p.m. HST, Jun 4, 2011

It lasted less than half an hour and stretched from Kaimuki to Aiea.

When it was over, a woman was dead, two other people were seriously injured and the lives of four Oahu families were shattered after a roadway shooting spree that police said appeared to be random attacks by a gunman.

Tammy Nguyen, a 54-year-old Palolo mother of 10, died of gunshot wounds she sustained when a man walked up to her van — idling at a red light in Kaimuki — and opened fire. A 16-year-old girl was in the van with Nguyen; she was not shot.

Amielou Asuncion, a 24-year-old Kalihi resident, was in serious but stable condition at the Queen's Medical Center after being shot by a passing driver as she was driving west on the H-1 freeway in Kapalama.

Samson Naupoto, a 38-year-old Salt Lake man, was in stable condition at the Queen's Medical Center from gunshot wounds, also along H-1 in Kapalama.

Being held in connection with the shooting of the three motorists was Wahiawa resident Toby Stangel, 28, the son of a North Shore minister.

Stangel is facing a second-degree murder charge, first-degree attempted murder (in the case of multiple victims) as well as several firearms violations, police said.

Police Maj. Richard Robinson, head of HPD's Criminal Investigation Division, said the shootings appear to be random acts.

"There is no connection between the suspects and victims, and no motive," he said.

The crime scenes on Kapiolani Boulevard, the H-1 westbound Houghtailing exit, a portion of Moanalua Freeway near the Aiea exit and a stretch of H-1 in Aiea were shut down for nearly six hours as police processed the evidence.

Robinson said the shootings began at 12:43 a.m. Friday in Kaimuki, at Kapiolani Boulevard and Kapahulu Avenue, and continued on the H-1 freeway.

A man in a car behind several eastbound cars on Kapiolani Boulevard stopped at the intersection at Kapahulu Avenue.

He got out of his car, walked up to the line of cars ahead and shot at two vehicles, Robinson said. A 21-year-old man in one vehicle was not hit. Nguyen, who was in a van, was shot multiple times, including in the head, Robinson said.

"He walked up and opened fire," Robinson said.

Workers in the nearby Foodland Super Market said they heard five shots, followed several minutes later by sirens.

Wayland Higa, a late-night security guard at Hawaii Self-Storage nearby, said he heard four shots, followed by five more shots in a quicker tempo.

After the first four shots, Higa said, he wasn't sure what the sounds were. When he heard the others, "I thought … somebody dumped a whole magazine," the gun enthusiast said.

When he ran out, he saw a van halfway up the curb on Kapiolani.

Ten minutes after the first gunshots, on the H-1 freeway between the Likelike Highway and Houghtailing Street exits, a man driving a late-model BMW struck the back of a car driven by a 24-year-old woman, then pulled alongside of the car.

"He opened fire again," Robinson said.

The driver was taken in "stable but critical condition" to the hospital, Robinson said.

Marinel Asuncion identified the woman as her sister, Amielou Asuncion, 24. The sister said Asuncion was driving to work at the time and was shot twice in the shoulder.

A 38-year-old man slowed down to see what was happening and was shot by the suspect, Robinson said. Police sources identified him as Naupoto.

At 12:58 a.m. the gunman fired at two police officers who were conducting a traffic stop on Moanalua Freeway near the Aiea offramp.

"No one was injured," Robinson said.

At 1 a.m. police officers saw the gray BMW stopped on the freeway near the Kaamilo Street overpass in Aiea.

A man with the car was arrested and taken to the Pearl City police substation, then transferred to the main police station.

A gun recovered at the scene was an unregistered 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, police said.

The BMW's ownership was "pending transfer," HPD said, although the department did not elaborate.

Tammy Nguyen's family issued a statement Friday afternoon urging the news media to allow her survivors privacy to mourn her loss. Describing her as a "dedicated homemaker," wife and mother of 10, the statement said, "Our mom was the kindest, most selfless person who always put others' worries before her own. We will miss her dearly."

Detectives said repeatedly that they did not know what triggered the spree and were trying to piece together what happened.

Toby Stangel's father, Mike Stangel, is pastor of North Shore Christian Fellowship, which has about 400 members, and was chaplain of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, church leader Bob Prasser said.

Prasser said he spoke about a dozen times Friday with Mike Stangel, who was with his family in Los Angeles on vacation.

The church community is pulling together to help the family during their absence, Prasser said.

"We're at a loss trying to figure out what happened," Prasser said. "It's such aberrant behavior, so it's hard to figure out what's wrong."

He said the family was concerned about a medical treatment Stangel was receiving for a physical condition. "We have no idea if that was a precipitating factor or not," Prasser said. "It's such a senseless tragedy."

Prasser said Toby Stangel lives in Wahiawa and would go to church on occasion. The younger of two children, Stangel attended Waialua High School but was later home-schooled, said Prasser, who described him as "easy to talk to." He did not know whether Stangel has a job.

Stangel appeared to be doing OK, Prasser said, when he last saw him about four months ago.

"He was in good spirits, had a new girlfriend, seemed to be doing real good," Prasser said. "I can't make anything of it. There's a little bit of disbelief and denial."

Prasser said the church planned to hold a special prayer meeting Friday night for the family and will have a special prayer during the 9 a.m. Sunday service for Stangel, his family and the shooting victims.

Stangel pleaded no contest in November 2003 to carrying a pistol without a license, according to court documents.

A judge in 2004 granted him a deferred acceptance of his no-contest plea, meaning the firearm charge would be wiped from his record if he complied with special conditions for a five-year period. The special conditions included giving up any firearms, working full time or going to vocational training, and not using alcohol or other drugs, according to court records.

He maintained compliance and completed community service, the documents said. Because of his cooperation, a judge granted him a one-year early release from the five-year deferral period in 2008, wiping the charge from his record, the documents show.

However, in 2006 Stangel was convicted of criminal property damage and sentenced to 100 hours of probation, fined $150 and placed on one year of probation.

Stangel's record includes four other misdemeanor convictions, but he has no record of serving time in prison. Besides criminal property damage, he was convicted of drunken driving, driving without a license and speeding.

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