GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (AP) — A gunman shouted at the children to leave his son's birthday party at a Texas roller rink before fatally shooting his estranged wife and four of her relatives and then killing himself as others panicked and some fled screaming in their skates, police and witnesses say.
Police said the couple had been having ongoing marriage problems that investigators believe led to the shootings about 7 p.m. Saturday at Forum Roller World in Grand Prairie, about 20 miles west of Dallas. No young children or rink employees were killed. Some people at nearby businesses said they watched as adults and children spilled from the rink in horror.
"They just looked terrified," Cody Poston, a witness, told WFAA-TV, outside the rink that was festooned with birthday decorations. "There's several people crying. The kids were just kind of oblivious."
Grand Prairie detective John Brimmer identified the gunman as Tan Do, 35, of Grand Prairie, and said the party was for his 11-year-old son. Do ordered the children to leave the party, and then after they ran and hid, he opened fire, Brimmer said. Do's son and his other child are safe with other relatives, he said.
Do killed his estranged wife, Trini Do, 29, of Grand Prairie, three of her siblings and her sister-in-law, Brimmer said in a statement Sunday. He identified the others as Trini Do's sisters, Lynn Ta, 16, and Michelle Ta, 28; her brother, Hien Ta, 21; and her sister-in-law, Thuy Nguyen, 25.
Brimmer said about 30 friends and family were attending the birthday party, some from out of town. Four others were wounded but don't have life-threatening injuries, he said.
Grief counselors were available for witnesses, victims and family members, Police Chief Steve Dye said.
Derrian Harris, 18, of Grand Prairie said he rushed to the rink Saturday night after hearing about the shootings. He said he usually goes there every Friday night and was worried about whether any of his friends were hurt, but later believed that he didn't know any of the victims. He said he has never seen so much as a fight at the rink.
"All kinds of people come here to skate, and everybody gets along," Harris said.
Great Southwest Parkway, a major street in an industrial area in front of the rink, was partially blocked off after the shooting. About a dozen police vehicles with lights flashing and a few fire trucks were parked nearby, with a mobile command station in front of the building. For hours overnight, investigators continued walking in and out of the building and bodies were still inside.
Aaron Feldt told WFAA-TV he was standing across the street at a bowling alley when he heard the shots.
"I saw family coming across the street," he said, adding he could see the "panic in their eyes."
Byron Raspberry of Grand Prairie said his children go to the rink frequently because it is near their home.
"It doesn't make any sense," Raspberry said. "I don't feel safe at all."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.