When Hughes Aircraft Engineer Mark Pham was growing up in Vietnam, his father was a prisoner of war. Pham said he prayed every day that his father would eventually come home. One day he did. And on another day, with a gunman holding him hostage, that story about his father would serve Pham well.
Pham testified Tuesday during a pretrial hearing in Inglewood Municipal Court for Walter James Waddy of Compton, accused of going on a rampage at the Hughes Aircraft plant, shooting and wounding three people. At the close of the one-day hearing, Judge Wardell Moss ordered Waddy, 62, bound over for trial on charges of assault with a firearm and imprisonment by violence and kidnapping.
Pham was not among those shot, but said Waddy held him hostage at the aerospace company's El Segundo plant during the April 17 incident. Pham said he told the gunman how his faith had brought his father home and that he wanted a chance to pray for the shooter, too.
Pham said he begged the gunman to spare his life so he could see his parents. He said that he also lied to the gunman about having a 1-year-old child whom he hoped to see grow up in order to get Waddy to give up the gun. He said Waddy eventually handed him the revolver and asked the structural design engineer to escort him to police when he surrendered.
Waddy had worked for Hughes for 16 years but quit his job in 1993 after suffering a neck injury. The former radar technician had been fighting Hughes for workers' compensation benefits for four years and witnesses who testified at the hearing Tuesday said he had come back to Hughes to settle a debt.
Waddy is being held on $1.5 million bail. Arraignment is set for June 4 at Torrance Superior Court.