High Point police identify man shot, killed at Buddhist temple, ask for community’s help finding gunman

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HIGH POINT, N.C. — High Point police have identified the man who was shot and killed while he was meditating at a Buddhist temple over the weekend, according to a High Point Police Department news release.

Police were called to the Chua An Lac temple in the 600 block of Scientific Street just before 7:45 p.m. on Saturday.

When they arrived, EMS was treating Tam Dinh Tran, a Buddhist monk who serves the temple.

Another monk, Vu Ta, called 911 when he found Tran kneeling at the altar in a praying position with blood coming out of his nose.

Police originally thought that Tran had been stabbed with a sharp object underneath his armpit.

He died at the scene. Upon further investigation the following day, authorities discovered Tran had been shot by a single bullet.

The projectile was shot from outside of the temple and traveled through the wall and into the temple.

Police say he was an unintended target of the shooting, but the shooting was not random.

Based on the circumstances, officers treated the incident as a homicide and applied for a search warrant to search the temple and process the scene.

During the search, officers found a hole in the right exterior wall that was consistent with a bullet hole. A second bullet hole was found in the right exterior wall where the bullet traveled into the wall and was lodged in a stud of the building.

On Sunday, July 19, detectives canvassed the area and found two handgun bullet casings along the road. Detectives are awaiting further forensic analysis of the recovered shell casings.

On Monday, detectives learned that the Medical Examiner’s Office X-ray of Tran showed a
bullet inside his chest.

During the autopsy, the Medical Examiner’s Office recovered the bullet, but the caliber of the bullet cannot be determined at this time.

Detectives are awaiting official autopsy results for further information.

“Bullets don’t have any respect for persons or property,” High Point Police Lt. Matt Truitt said. “They couldn’t see where those bullets went, or if the temple was their actual target.”

Truitt said this is the 40th shooting the city has endured since the start of June.

Most of the shootings have not ended in someone being seriously hurt or killed, however, most have involved houses, cars and innocent families nearby.

“There were people at homes, and at home with their families. And they’re laying on the floor, as bullets are coming through their homes,” Truitt said.

Aggravated assaults involving firearms have risen by 7% since mid-March, with more than one gun being used in most of them.

High Point police records show that homicides are down, significantly, with two homicides recorded compared to 10 at the same point in 2019.

The department has also recovered 230 guns from the hands of those who illegally possess them. That’s just slightly up from 224 in 2019.

The HPPD is asking for the help of the community to solve this crime. If you are aware of a shooting incident that occurred on South Scientific Street on July 18, 2020, please contact Detective Buben at (336) 887-7867 or Crime Stoppers at (336) 889-4000 or using the P3 app.

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