Vietnam detains 12 people in killer cop probe

The killer cop, Le Quoc Tuan, 33, was shot dead last Thursday in a confrontation with police officers after he was cornered near the Xang Bridge in the outlying district of Cu Chi.

Tuan, who worked with the custody and temporary detention office of the District 11 police department, was on the run after shooting five men in Cu Chi’s Tan Thanh Dong Commune after a dice game last month.

Among the suspects detained Friday were 33-year-old Pham Thanh Tam, Tuan’s close friend and a cop himself, and Le Quoc Minh, 27, Tuan’s cousin.

They and eight others are being investigated for charges of “harboring or consuming property acquired through the commission of crime by other persons,” and “illegal stockpiling and use of military weapons.”

Two others were detained for their involvement in Tuan’s escape, but investigators have not revealed further details.

On January 29, the last day of the Lunar New Year holiday, Tuan and Minh went to a garden to play a dice game called Sic bo.

Tuan lost all his money and asked to play one more game to try and recoup his losses. But when no one agreed to play, he got angry, yelled at the group and left, only to return later with an assault rifle. He fired eight shots at the group, killing four instantly and injuring one.

Tuan then fled on a motorbike, taking the gun and around VND1 billion ($43,000) from the game with him. The assault rifle Tuan used did not belong to the District 11 police department, police said.

He gave the money to Tam before stealing a motorbike from a woman and later the same night, killed a 40-year-old man to steal his motorbike. The killer cop was on the run for over two weeks before the police found him.

On Thursday night, hundreds of law enforcement officers were mobilized to a deserted house near the Xang Bridge to seal off the area and arrest Tuan.

The are where Tuan was shot dead is still blocked off on the afternoon of February 14, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa. 

Police guard an area where former cop Le Quoc Tuan was shot dead, in the afternoon of February 14, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa. 

Colonel Nguyen Sy Quang, deputy director of HCMC’s Police Department, said at a press conference Friday that the mobilization of a large number of officers was necessary because Tuan could take advantage of the complex terrain to hide and escape.

During the confrontation, Tuan fired three bullets at the police, prompted them to return fire, Quang said. The siege and the shootout lasted 50 minutes.

Police seized the assault rifle Tuan used and nine bullets – one was on the barrel and eight in the ammunition box.

Tuan was wanted for murder, robbery and the illegal use of military weapons.

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