By MICHAEL BALSAMO
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man stabbed two men to death at a private recreational club in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood after one of the victims wouldn’t give him money to pay for an impounded car, Los Angeles police said in a Jan. 27 statement.
Police say Vinh Quok Dao, 37, walked into the Hop Sing Tong Benevolent Association club on Jan. 26, and stabbed two men in the neck after an argument broke out during a mah jong game. Police said Dao demanded that the club’s president, Tony Young, 64, give him $400 for vehicle impound fees. When Young refused, Dao used a six inch knife to stab Young and when fellow club-member Kim Kong Yon, 64, tried to stop the attack, Dao began stabbing him as well, according to prosecutors. Both victims died at the scene.
Investigators said Dao was formerly a member of the social club, but had left the area years ago and only recently returned to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles police said Dao fled the club after the stabbings, leaving a trail of blood droplets. He was taken into custody the following day in Rosemead, about 10 miles away from the club.
On Jan. 31, Dao was charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders and using a knife as a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The incident is a reminder of the Tong’s violent past when it battled with a rival tong, Bing Kong Tong, in the 1920’s. The fraternal organizations sprang up to defend the Chinese community from discrimination. As they grew in strength, the Tongs also expanded into such illegal activities as prostitution, gambling, and extortion. Today they are social clubs and maintain a presence in such large Chinese enclaves as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.