Orange County, California law enforcement authorities arrested another suspect in the Kim Pham murder case on Friday. Orange County Police Chief Carlos Rojas did not release the suspect’s name, but confirmed that the woman is being investigated for her role in the attack that left Pham unconscious on a sidewalk outside of a nightclub on January 18th.
Surveillance videos from the night show a large group of people fighting outside of a nightclub in Santa Ana, California. The melee started when two groups of friends crossed paths and started arguing. Some reports say the argument turned physical when Pham interrupted (photobombed) a picture being taken by the other group. The latest suspect is the second person arrested in connection with Pham’s fatal beating. The first, 25-year-old Vanesa Tapia Zavala, has been charged with first degree murder.
As both the LA Times and CBS report, Orange County police are having an extremely hard time getting witnesses to come forward with information about the fight. Investigators working on the case say they have only been able to identify one of the eight friends present with Pham on the night she was beaten. The friend refused to talk with police about the incident.
The other seven friends look to be intentionally remaining unknown. Information has been so hard to come by for Orange County investigators that they’ve offered an $11,000 reward for information that leads to arrests or convictions in the case. Still, Pham’s friends remain in the shadows.
According to Orange County Police Commander Tim Vu, the issue may be a cultural one. Vu, the highest ranking Vietnamese officer in the Orange County Police Department, says distrust of the government runs deep in the Orange County Vietnamese community.
"People worry that there will be retaliation," Vu said. “They don’t know the court system and are intimidated by it.”
Local government leaders are now reaching out to the community through Vietnamese-language media outlets. Officials are stressing that witnesses who come forward will be treated with respect by officials and can remain anonymous if they wish.
"Their identities will be protected if they wish," said Ken Nguyen, a Santa Ana resident acting as a liaison to the Vietnamese community. “These are the things we offered the youths, and so far, they are quiet.”