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Luck prevented more bloodshed in nightclub shooting, LAPD says [Updated]

July 24, 2011 |  8:02 am

A masked gunman opened fire into a crowd of people at a Little Tokyo nightclub early Saturday morning. (KTLA-TV / July 23, 2011)

Los Angeles police said the masked gunman who opened fire Saturday outside a Little Tokyo nightclub could have easily wounded more people.

Two people are in critical condition after being hit by the gunfire outside Vault XXI Boutique Lounge, at 333 S. Alameda St.

"We're lucky more people were not injured in this attack," said Capt. Paul Vernon said. "It appears the victims were targeted by the suspect as they stood at the entrance to the nightclub."

The suspect is still at large.

Witnesses said a man wearing a ski mask walked into the courtyard from the sidewalk on Alameda Street about 1:30 a.m., barked out a short phrase and started shooting. Two men in their mid-20s who were smoking at the entrance to the nightclub were the apparent targets, Vernon said. Both fell from multiple gunshot wounds and crawled into the club.

Vernon said the shooter ran back to Alameda, then north toward 3rd Street. Witnesses described him as wearing a beige hat similar to the popular mini-fedoras, a dark flannel shirt and jeans.

[Updated, 5:02 p.m., July 24: Police announced that one of the men who was shot has died of his wounds. Jackie Hoang, 29, of Alhambra died at USC Los Angeles County Medical Center, police said. The other man, whose name has not been released, remains in critical condition.

Authorities said they are looking for a man about 5-feet-6, of medium build, who was seen “wearing a small, beige fedora hat on top of a ski mask over his face, a dark flannel shirt and  jeans,” according to a news release from the Police Department.]

Detectives examined the scene and found more than half a dozen shell casings from a semiautomatic handgun.

"There's a number of people out there who do know who did this," Vernon said. "We'd hope they would come forward right away."

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-- Richard Winton and Bob Pool

Photo: A masked gunman opened fire into a crowd of people at a Little Tokyo nightclub early Saturday morning. (KTLA-TV / July 23, 2011)

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