Siege at The Good Guys! store remains largest hostage-rescue event in U.S. history: Shattered examines the scene

Police cars surrounding the Good Guys! store.
A siege at The Good Guys! store lasted eight and a 1/2 hours. Pic credit: KCRA News / YouTube

A siege at a branch of The Good Guys!, a chain of electronic stores, is still known as the largest hostage-rescue event in U.S. history. In April 1991, four gunmen marched into the store, taking 39 people hostage, triggering a stand-off with police that would last 8 1/2 hours.

Four young men of Vietnamese extraction, members of the Oriental Boys street gang, gained notoriety in a violent siege that resulted in the deaths of 6 people: 3 hostages and 3 perpetrators and left eleven people wounded.

Having botched a robbery at a different location, brothers Loi Khac Nguyen, 21; Pham Khac Nguyen, 19; and Long Khac Nguyen, 17; as well as their friend, Cuong Tran, 17 entered the electronics store rounding up customers and employees.

When Sheriffs surrounded the building, the gunmen began issuing a series of bizarre demands, including asking for a helicopter, millions of dollars, body armor, and weapons. They also required a 1,000-year-old ginger plant, which was to be made into tea.

The gunmen toyed with their hostages, such as flipping a coin to decide who they would shoot in the leg. They shot one 24-year-old employee in the leg and sent him crawling to receive a bullet-proof vest from the deputies.

Police still hoped to end the siege peacefully; they had the mother and a cousin of one of the gunmen nearby, along with a Buddhist priest, but the gunmen refused to speak to any of them.

Local TV stations got wind of what was happening and began broadcasting the dramatic events live on air. The gunmen were watching the coverage from inside, “we’re going to be movie stars,” they proclaimed.

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Approximately 8 hours into the siege, a sheriff’s sniper thinking he had a clear shot aimed at, fired and missed one of the gunmen. In retaliation, the gunman opened fire on a line of hostages, which prompted a SWAT team and deputies to rush the grocery store.

During the assault, 11 hostages were injured and 3 lost there lives. Of the gunman, only Loi Khac Nguyen survived the shoot out. The charge played out on live television.

The motive for the hostage-taking remains unclear; at the time, Sheriff Craig suggested: “They were attempting to gain notoriety.” They had told negotiators that they were dissatisfied with their lives, frustrated with the difficulty in finding jobs, and were eager to be “movie stars.”

The siege served as an inspiration for the movie, a Clear Shot released earlier this year.

Watch tonight on Shattered at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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