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Stangel charged in fatal rampage

The suspect allegedly killed one person and wounded others in Friday's shootings

By Rob Shikina and Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 12:23 p.m. HST, Jun 5, 2011

Family and friends said yesterday that they couldn't explain what happened to 28-year-old Toby Stangel, who police think was the gunman in Friday's random fatal shooting.

In a statement, the Stangel family, on a mainland vacation, said they were struggling with the tragedy.

"We are broken and sick with grief," wrote Stangel's father, Mike, the pastor of the North Shore Christian Fellowship. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the innocent families who have been affected by this tragic act. We wish we had an explanation, but there simply is none. Those who know us, know we have always loved our son with an unconditional love. We thank all of you who have sent us your love, prayers & support. We are looking to the Lord Jesus for guidance, strength & comfort."

Toby Stangel allegedly went on a shooting spree shortly after midnight Friday, killing a mother of 10 and wounding two others.

He was charged Saturday night with murder, seven counts of attempted murder and firearms charges and was being held in lieu of $5 million bail.

The spree lasted about 17 minutes but involved four crime scenes that stretched from Kaimuki to Aiea. Police said the victims are not known to the suspect and that the shootings appeared to be completely random. There are no known motives.

Honolulu police Lt. David Kamai said detectives have requested the help of federal law enforcement agencies to trace the origin of the unregistered 9 mm semiautomatic handgun that was recovered in Aiea.

He didn't have details on what Stangel was doing in Kaimuki before the shooting. A family spokesman said Stangel lives in Wahiawa, while police said Stangel had both a North Shore and a Honolulu address.

Meanwhile, family and friends opened up Saturday about the victims.

Tammy Nguyen, 54, of Palolo was shot in her van at Kapiolani Boulevard and Kapahulu Avenue about 12:43 a.m. Her daughter, 16, was in the passenger seat and was not injured when the shooter walked up to the driver's side and began firing his 9 mm handgun.

Police said the suspect initially shot at a 21-year-old who was stopped at the light in front of Nguyen's van, but missed.

Ten minutes later, Kalihi resident Amie Lou Asuncion, 24, had her pickup truck rammed and then was shot by the suspect. When Salt Lake resident Samson Naupoto, 38, slowed his SUV amid the commotion, the gunman fired at him.

A short time later, the gunman fired at two police officers conducting a traffic stop on Moanalua Freeway westbound near the Aiea offramp. No one was injured and the officers began to give chase, police said.

At 1 a.m., officers found a gray BMW stopped on the freeway near the Kaamilo Street overpass in Aiea, where Stangel was arrested.

Bill Toki, Naupoto's cousin, said the family believes that if Naupoto had not stopped, the gunman might have continued to fire at Asuncion.

Toki, who lives at the same Salt Lake address as Naupoto's family, said his cousin is married and the father of five.

Naupoto has a contract to clean drains on state highways and was returning to a work site on Likelike Highway when he drove west on H-1 in Kapalama and crossed paths with the shooter, Toki said.

Naupoto was shot in the leg and remains at the Queen's Medical Center in intensive care, Toki said. He showed reporters where a bullet entered the passenger-side door of the SUV.

"He's lucky," Toki said of his cousin, a Tongan immigrant. "I think if he was in a smaller vehicle, it could have been much worse."

Lani Baltar said Asuncion, her cousin and roommate, works long hours, often after midnight, as a nursing assistant at a care home.

Baltar said Asuncion was returning to her workplace after transporting a patient when she was confronted.

Asuncion told her family that after the shooter turned his attention toward Naupoto, she ran from her car, leaped over the median and jumped over the railing on the makai side of the freeway viaduct behind the Honolulu Ford lot.

Asuncion was shot in the back and suffered abrasions to other parts of her body as a result of her jump.

"She's lucky," Baltar said of her cousin, whose family emigrated from the Philippines after Asuncion graduated from high school.

Tammy Nguyen's neighbors in the Palolo Valley Homes complex were still stunned by her death, saying she was friendly and helpful to those living around her.

The mother of 10, Nguyen was described as a homemaker.

Sina Tuisila, who lives next door, said that while the father worked as a taxi driver, Tammy Nguyen "loved her plants" and would tend to them every morning.

The family, immigrants from Vietnam, liked to load up in their van and go to play tennis, Tuisila said. Sometimes, only the mom and dad would go, she said.

Tammy Nguyen was known as a great cook who shared food with new people in the neighborhood.

Akiko Joseph, 15, attends Kaimuki High School with the Nguyens' youngest daughter, the one who was in the van with her mother Friday night.

Tammy Nguyen "was very kind … she wouldn't make trouble to anybody," Joseph said.

"It was sad because it was so random," Joseph said of the shooting. "She didn't deserve to die that way."

One neighbor of Stangel's parents in Haleiwa grew up with Stangel and said he had a normal childhood but begain "dipping in drugs," and "just went nuts" after high school.

He did not elaborate.

He said Stangel's arrest in connection with the shooting "was a shock to our whole family. (It) didn't seem like anything that Toby would do."

Another neighbor, Joey Hatchie, grew up across the street from Stangel and had outings with Stangel and the other neighborhood kids. They biked, hiked and played football together.

Hatchie last saw Stangel about seven months ago after Stangel had just finished surfing, and didn't notice anything unusual.

"Knowing him from small-kid time, I can't imagine why," he said. "He's practically done for. I actually feel bad for him."

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