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Man Is Sought in Fatal Brawl

Authorities issue a warrant for a student suspected in last week's San Jose State fraternity fight that left one dead, six injured.

January 31, 2003|John M. Glionna | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Authorities on Thursday issued a warrant for a 20-year-old community college student they believe was one of the attackers in last week's San Jose State University fraternity brawl, but they say the man -- who has been reported missing by his family since Tuesday -- was not a fraternity member.

Officials have set bail at $1million for Long Duy Tran of San Jose, an accounting major at De Anza College in nearby Cupertino. He has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection with one of the injured fraternity members. Police would not identify the victim for fear that he might face retaliation.

Lt. Glenn McCourtie, commander of the San Jose Police Department's homicide unit, said detectives have not ruled out Tran's involvement in the death of Alam Kim. He was fatally stabbed when he and other Lamba Phi Epsilon fraternity members faced off against the rival Pi Alpha Phi fraternity in a darkened San Jose park early Jan. 22.

Six others, all members of the Lambda fraternity, were injured.

Police said Tran was among a group of people -- which included Pi Alpha Phi fraternity members from nearby UC Santa Cruz -- who were summoned to join the brawl, which was staged to settle mounting tensions between the two fraternities.

Said McCourtie: "We believe he was one of the outsiders called in for backup."

Tran could be armed and is considered extremely dangerous, police say. He was last seen driving a green 1988 Mazda MX6 with the California license plate 4EGK192.

Police have interviewed more than 100 people who attended or had knowledge of the fight and are still looking for the person who called from a cell phone an hour before the brawl to warn authorities of the impending violence.

San Jose police responded but did not find trouble at suburban Flickinger Park in east San Jose. McCourtie believes the youths were en route to the face-off at the time.

Detectives remain frustrated by what they say have been conflicting stories given by many fraternity members, and McCourtie said Thursday that leaders of both chapters have told their members not to cooperate with the investigation. "It's frustrating," he said.

Authorities have pieced together the events leading up to the fatal fight, which was partly triggered by a rumble last week outside a nearby Santa Clara pool hall in which several Lambdas were beaten up.

Lambda members later threw eggs at the Pi Alpha Phi house just off the San Jose State University campus and threatened to return.

McCourtie said group leaders agreed to settle their differences in a face-off early Jan. 22, but members of both sides reportedly pledged to leave all their weapons at home.

Police later recovered a number of weapons including knives, clubs, razor blades, pepper spray canisters and other crudely fashioned devices. The weapons were found at the scene, on surrounding streets and in several locations where search warrants were filed.

McCourtie said the fight was brief and bloody. Though he doesn't know the signal that triggered the violence, he said the victims were overtaken within seconds.

"There was some exchange of words and the first punch is thrown, the first knife thrust, and then all hell breaks loose," McCourtie said. "The aggressors were very focused, very directed and very efficient in utilizing their weapons and the element of surprise.

"For those few minutes, the victims in that close inner circle of the confrontation were either assaulted or chased down or rat-packed by multiple people," he added.

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