[UPDATED:] Chi Ngoc Bui, OC Homicide No. 40: Run Over for His Casino Winnings
Chi Ngoc Bui won big the night of Sept. 2 at the Hawaiian Gardens Casino next to the 605 freeway.
Little did the 55-year-old Westminster resident know that he was being watched, later followed or that he'd take his last breaths that early the next morning.
After winning $10,000 at the casino, Bui left the casino in a 2002 Honda Civic with his longtime friend Kim Nguyen early Sept. 3.
Police believe someone inside the casino was watching Bui cash out around 4 a.m. before alerting a couple waiting outside to Bui.
Bui was driving Nguyen to her Santa Ana home around 5:30 a.m. when they were cut off at the curb in front of her residence in the 100 block of South Andres Place by a gold 2001 Grand Prix.
A man jumped out of the passenger side of the Grand Prix, rushed over to Bui, whipped out a knife and demanded he hand over his winnings. Bui tried to make a run for it, but was knocked to the ground.
He fought with his assailant, who never used the knife. The attacker then jumped back into the passenger seat of the Grand Prix before the driver hit the gas and ran over Bui's head, killing him instantly.
The couple in the Grand Prix then fled the scene.
Nguyen, who was not hurt, got out of the Honda and screamed for help. Police arrived to find her over Bui, the attacker's knife still next to him.Nguyen gave officers a partial description of the robber who got out of the Grand Prix but she could not describe its driver because of the tinted windows. Money was found in the street.
Through citizen tips, subsequent investigation and help from the casino, Santa Ana Police were able to identify Tad Allen Carroll, a 41-year-old transient, and Barbara Ann Hamel, 47,
of Long Beach, as the pair in the Grand Am.
They were arrested for murder by Santa Ana detectives assisted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Force and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Fugitive Apprehension Team.
The LASD is reportedly investigating Ross and Carroll, who has a long criminal history, for the robbery of another big winner at the same casino in June. (Details on that case are found in the statement from the Orange County District Attorney's Office on the next page.)
Carroll, Hamel and Ross are all charged with one felony count each of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, second degree robbery, and attempted second degree robbery. Ross and Carroll, who are being held without bail, are also each charged with one felony count of second degree robbery.
If convicted, each could get life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
UPDATE: Ross was arrested Saturday morning in Mohave Valley, Ariz., after leading U.S. Marshals on a short foot chase. Also arrested was his girlfriend Danielle Strawn, who was wanted by authorities. A search of their hideout produced meth and marijuana, according to Santa Ana Police. Carroll, Hamel and Ross are due to appear in court on Oct. 15.
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The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the charges follow on the next page.