Guests had just finished singing "Happy Birthday" to an 11-year-old boy when his father spoke to him briefly, then pulled out a gun and shot the child's mother, four of her relatives and himself, said a disc jockey who witnessed the shooting spree at a Texas roller rink.
Tan Do, 35, was "smooth, cool" as he shot his victims at close range, DJ Allen Tillotson told The Associated Press on Monday. He "knew exactly the people he wanted" to shoot and paused only to reload a weapon that had been hidden in his pants, Tillotson said.
"After he went for the wife, he went for the next lady, then a man, then a young lady," he said.
Do killed his estranged wife Trini Do, 29; two of her sisters, Lynn Ta, 16, and Michelle Ta, 28; her brother, Hien Ta, 21; and her sister-in-law, Thuy Nguyen, 25. Four others were wounded. At the end of the Saturday night rampage, Tran Do shot himself.
Tillotson said he was on his way to get a garbage can to clean up the DJ booth when the shooting began.
"I thought I was going to be dead, but Jesus had me," the 19-year-old said.
Police in suburban Grand Prairie have concluded the attack was planned.
"Domestic violence had been going on for quite some time, and he used the party to kill these people," department spokesman John Brimmer said.
Trini Do's aunt, Janice Tran, told the AP that Tan Do loved his wife but had trouble controlling his temper and the couple argued constantly, often about money. Tran said she and other relatives tried to help keep the peace, but Tan Do had "attitude problems" that were getting worse.
"Lately, we (gave) up because we did not do any good," said Tran, who lives in lives in Fort Smith, Ark.
Tran said she helped Trini Do, her parents and her siblings emigrate from Vietnam to western Arkansas in 1994. Michelle Ta lived in North Texas, and Lynn Ta, Hien Ta and Nguyen lived in Fort Smith, Tran said.
"It's very hard," Tran said. "Every time when I think about Trini and Michelle and Hien, it's hard."
Trini Do obtained a protective order last December against Tan Do but had it withdrawn earlier this year against a prosecutor's advice because she wanted to give him another chance. She also sought a divorce in 2008 but withdrew that filing months later after Tan Do "begged" her to come back, Tran said.
Trini Do said in her request for a protective order that there was a pattern of physical violence and threats, according to The Dallas Morning News and KTVT-TV in Dallas. They included an incident early last year in which she claimed Tan Do fired shots into the ceiling after threatening to shoot her.
"He dragged me into the closet, pull his gun . and threaten me. I was afraid for my safety," an affidavit quotes her as saying.
Then, in November, her husband slapped her face in front of their two children during an argument, Trini Do said. She pretended to call 911 but intentionally misdialed because she didn't want her husband to be arrested, the document states.
Trini Do said the episode made her husband so angry he dragged her into the kitchen and threatened her again with guns.
"He was so upset and went inside the room and gets all the guns out. If anyone show up at the house, he will shoot them . The kids saw that and they both frighten and cry so bad," she said in the affidavit. Along with their son, the couple had a 3-year-old daughter.
Although the court ordered Tan Do to stay away from the family, it withdrew the order in March based on Trini Do's statement that her husband had promised to change.
"I hope that I am making the right decision," Trini Do said in a second affidavit.
Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant in Little Rock, Ark. contributed to this report.