Vietnamese Refugee Arrested in Texas After Threatening Church Shooting, Say Feds

Trung with rifle
Photo: Hieu Tran Trung

Federal law enforcement agents arrested a Vietnamese refugee in Lubbock, Texas, after he allegedly threatened to carry out a mass shooting at a church. The refugee now faces a federal charge for being a felon in possession of firearms.

Prosecutors told U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant, Jr. that a confidential informant provided information to the FBI that Hieu Tran Trung, a 45-year-old Vietnamese refugee who lives in Lubbock, claimed he was planning to “spray up” random people at a church, according to a report by KCBD NBC11. The informant reportedly provided photos indicating that Trung had firearms in his possession despite being a convicted felon.

Federal court records indicate the informant approached the FBI last week and said Trung told him in late July “people were not taking him seriously” and that he planned to “show who he can be.” Trung allegedly said he planned to “spray up” random people including those at a church he and the informant attended.

On July 25, Trung allegedly sent the informant a photograph showing his recent purchase of a large quantity of ammunition. Trung allegedly told the informant he could kill someone and “easily skip town.” It was after this alleged conversation that the informant approached the FBI claiming concern for his own safety and that of the community.

The FBI contacted ICE Homeland Security Investigations and confirmed Trung’s nationality as a citizen of North Vietnam who is living in the United States as a refugee, the criminal complaint states. The HSI agent informed the FBI agent that this status means Trung is a “prohibited person” who is not allowed to possess firearms in the U.S.

Additionally, court records show that Trung served a 96-month prison sentence following a December 2000 conviction for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Trung traveled to Stamford, Texas, to purchase firearms from an individual. That person took Trung and some other friends to a rural area to shoot. After they returned to Stamford, Trung pulled a pistol out and pointed it at the person selling the guns. He forced all of the people out of the car and drove off with a SKS rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun.

Trung’s underlying felony conviction came from a September 1998 case by a Texas district court in Denton. The court convicted Trung for Assault of a Public Servant and sentenced him to two years in state prison. In that case, the refugee “struck and stomped” a detention officer in retaliation for the officer’s performance and exercise of official duties, the criminal complaint states.

Based on the information provided by the informant and Trung’s violent criminal history, the FBI obtained a federal search warrant for Trung’s residence and executed the warrant on August 7. During the search, agents found a Hi-Point Model C9 pistol loaded with one round in the chamber and nine in a magazine. They also found two other loaded magazines in the home. The pistol, magazines and a shoulder holster were found in a briefcase.

Federal agents placed Trung under arrest and seized the weapon.

“I’m grateful to the citizen who reported his friend’s concerning behavior to federal authorities. His courage in speaking out may well have saved lives,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said in a written statement obtained from the Department of Justice. “It’s critical that we act quickly when we get information like this and I commend our law enforcement partners who immediately intervened before the defendant could inflict real harm.”

“The defendant knew he was prohibited from possessing firearms, but still went out of his way to illegally obtain them,” FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said in the statement. “He also threatened to use these illegal firearms against his perceived enemies.”

“As a result, we moved quickly to prevent a violent crime,” DeSarno explained. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to detecting and assessing possible threats as they arise. We work hard to protect our communities from violent individuals and encourage the public to report any suspicious activity that poses a threat to public safety.”

Trung now faces a federal felony charge for being a felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted on the charge, he could face up to ten years in federal prison.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

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