Some of the guests at two wedding receptions that disintegrated into a bloody brawl -- leaving a groom injured and one of his relatives dead -- were from rival gangs, police said yesterday.
Investigators are bracing for the possibility of retaliation for the weekend fight, which killed 24-year-old Tap Cong Tran and resulted in knife wounds to six other known gang members.
"It's something that we're cognizant of and [police are]doing this investigation as thoroughly as possible to find out who did this," Edmonton Police spokesman Andy Weiler said. "Obviously, we do all our investigations thoroughly, but there is that heightened sense of awareness that it is a possibility."
Police, who have no suspects and have not recovered any weapons, do not know what sparked the fracas late Saturday at the Mirama Dining & Lounge, a three-floor banquet hall and restaurant near the city's Chinatown. The two separate wedding receptions were held on the second and third floors of the facility; all seven victims, who are in their 20s, attended the one on the third floor.
"Investigators have been able to determine that some -- and I really want to stress this -- that some of the guests who were invited to both weddings are associated with gangs, rival gangs, and that's one of the theories that they're looking at right now," Mr. Weiler said.
Police did not identify the two rival Asian gangs or say whether the seven victims are linked to one gang or associated with different, friendly gangs.
"They're not being very co-operative, the victims, with investigators. And obviously that sort of puts another side to the investigation, as going to be a long and possibly difficult one," Mr. Weiler said. "The investigators know that the victims have information, but they're just not forthcoming with it."
He said the dispute between guests from both weddings began near the second-floor staircase and spilled over to a landing area, which is where Mr. Tran's body was found.
"At some point, members from both wedding parties got into a disturbance. Knives came out and a fight ensued," he said. ". . . Obviously there was mayhem in the facility and quite a bit of blood."
Several guests who attended the second-floor party insisted to reporters on Sunday that the fight began on the third floor and had nothing to do with anyone attending their reception, which reportedly celebrated the marriage of Robert Vo and Vivian Vu.
A 20-year-old man has "serious head trauma and his condition is very, very grave," Mr. Weiler said. A 25-year-old groom, who was not identified, was stabbed in the throat and was listed in serious, non-life-threatening condition yesterday. Three others are also in serious condition. One man was released from hospital.
Mr. Weiler said the police investigation is "massive." In all, 380 people were invited to the second-floor reception and another 175 were invited to the one on the third floor, leaving police with more than 500 potential witnesses in a large building with two parking lots.