The gunman fled and shot and killed himself a few minutes later, police say.
Officers were called to the House of Pho on San Mateo north of Montgomery NE around 1:30 p.m. to find the owners, 24-year-old Jerry Nguyen and 31-year-old Anpha Nguyen, dead inside, said Tanner Tixier, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department. Their father, Hung Nguyen, who was not critically injured, was taken to a hospital.
The small restaurant, next to Montgomery Plaza, a large shopping center, opened in April 2015 and has received positive ratings online. Del Norte High School, which was on lockdown for a short time, is directly across San Mateo. The road was closed for a couple hours.
Tixier said investigators don’t know why the gunman opened fire but they believe he is related to the Nguyen family.
“It is believed the offender in this case is an estranged family member,” he said, adding that his name will be released once he is positively identified.
Tixier said about 30 people may have witnessed the incident.
Officers were given a description of the gunman and saw him on a street near San Pedro and Menaul NE eight minutes later.
Tixier said Police Chief Gorden Eden was among those who reported the suspect’s location. Eden was in the area on his way back from lunch with Maj. Jessica Tyler and Maj. Anthony Montaño when they heard the call and jumped in to help.
“They were in the area, heard the call come out, thought they could help find the offender vehicle and, lo and behold, they did,” Tixier said.
The chief relayed information to dispatch, and an officer tried to pull over the suspect near Claremont and San Pedro NE, he said.
“We engaged a traffic stop, and the subject pulled over, and at this time, we believe the individual took his life with some type of gun,” Tixier said.
The SWAT team arrived to search the neighborhood, along with the suspect’s car – a silver hatchback with an out-of-state license plate – parked on Phoenix near San Pedro.
Tixier said the SWAT team response was appropriate given the potential threat to officers and the community.
“We treat people in vehicles like they’re barricaded,” Tixier said. “We knew he was armed and knew he had possibly committed a double homicide.”
Before they could search the car, a supervisor on the bomb team saw items that could have been explosives, Tixier said.
“As we made our approach to take him into custody or confirm his status, we located some items inside the vehicle that were concerning,” he said. “We went ahead and made it an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) situation.”
Tixier didn’t know what items were seen in the car that worried the officers or what they ended up finding.
The bomb squad could be seen searching the car with a robot for several hours and removing what looked like a body Friday evening.
The SWAT situation shut down the neighborhood around Phoenix and San Pedro for much of the afternoon while police investigated.
Tracy Whitney, who works in an office near where the suspect was found, said that around 1:45 p.m. officers and SWAT team members poured into the area.
She and about 30 other employees stayed in lockdown while the police searched the area.
“They were running through the building and at Walgreens (across the street) and through side streets,” Whitney said. “I locked our doors and locked us all in.”
Journal staff writer Nicole Perez contributed to this report.