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Fatal classroom shooting at L.A. trade school was preceded by student-teacher argument, sources say

February 24, 2011 |  1:06 pm

Map shows location of Wednesday's shooting in purple, as well as nearby homicides in red, since January 2007. Click for more details on The Times’ interactive Homicide Report. A 22-year-old Gardena man got into an argument with his vocational school teacher moments before he left the class and returned with the pistol he used to fatally shoot the instructor, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said Thursday.

Thien Huynh was arrested on suspicion of murder Wednesday in connection with the slaying of the instructor, who taught a course at Coast Career Institute on how to become a security guard.

The victim was identified only as a 44-year-old male.  He worked as a security guard and had been teaching the 24-week class for the past three years, detectives said in a statement released late Wednesday.

The sources, who asked not to be identified because the criminal investigation is ongoing, said police have not established a motive for the killing but noted that Huynh had been singled out negatively in class by his instructor on previous occasions. 

Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, the sources said an argument broke out between the victim and the suspect in the 13-member class.

Huynh briefly left his classroom. Moments later, sources said, he kicked or pushed the door in and immediately opened fire on the instructor, who was standing a few feet inside the doorway. The instructor sustained multiple gunshots and was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

No other students were injured and police said they believe the instructor was the lone target of the shooting, said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon

Immediately after the shooting, Huynh tossed the gun into the classroom and left the building, authorities said. Witnesses gave emergency dispatchers a description of the suspect, who was spotted smoking a cigarette at Hill Street near 14th Place, Vernon said.

One man standing outside the crime scene described the slain instructor as “one of the nicest guys ever. It was just a random act.”


Suspect kills his vocational teacher at point-blank range

Suspect briefly left security guard class before returning and opening fire, police say

-- Andrew Blankstein

Map: Shows location of Wednesday's shooting in purple, as well as 103 other homicides in red that occured since January 2007. Credit: Homicide Report

Click to visit The Times' interactive Homicide Report