July 8, 2008

Immigrant charged with motorist shootings

Associated Press - July 8, 2008 6:35 PM ET

GARLAND, Texas (AP) - Authorities say charges against a man accused of shooting at random motorists over three days in the Dallas suburbs will be filed as hate crimes.

Thai-An Huu Nguyen faces three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon - two from Garland and one from Richardson.

Garland police said Tuesday that the 22-year-old Nguyen was targeting Asians and Hispanics. Authorities say Nguyen told detectives he had been involved in two separate altercations involving both ethnic groups.

Not all of Nguyen's victims were Hispanic or Asian. But detectives think Nguyen perceived the shooting victims were.

Filing the cases as hate crimes increases the charge to a first-degree felony and enhances the punishment.

Nguyen was being held in Dallas County jail. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a hold on him. The native of Vietnam is in the U.S. legally, but is accused of crimes that make him deportable. It was not immediately clear if Nguyen had an attorney.

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