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Houston woman paralyzed in robbery sues plaza where attack took place

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Nhung Truong, a 44-year-old Vietnamese mother of three, is suing Houston’s Dun Huang Plaza after she was left paralyzed from the waist down following a robbery that took place in the same area last year.

Key points:

  • Truong is suing the shopping center in order to push for measures aimed at preventing others from experiencing the same fate as hers.

  • However, the plaza highlighted their security measures and emphasized their prompt reporting of incidents to the authorities. Instead, the plaza suggested the need for the government to work on community safety efforts.

Catch up:

  • On Feb. 13, 2023, Joseph Harrell, 17, was captured on surveillance footage physically attacking Truong during a robbery at the 9800 block of Bellaire in Houston. Harrell observed Truong withdrawing from a bank in Chinatown before following her for more than 20 miles to Bellaire.

  • Truong, who had withdrawn a large amount of cash for an upcoming trip to visit her family in Vietnam, suffered broken ribs and a severe spinal cord injury that has left her unable to walk.

  • In October last year, Harrell was sentenced to 30 years in a state correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery causing serious bodily injury to Troung.

The details:

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  • Alongside Truong’s attorney, Nick Ware, the victim believes that the new lawsuit could prompt Dun Huang Plaza to address and decrease crime rates at the Chinatown shopping center, ultimately benefiting the community.

  • According to Ware, the Houston Police Department has received 419 calls for service to the plaza from January 2021 to January 2024. These calls reported various incidents including “reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful carrying of a weapon, aggravated assault, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated robbery and criminal mischief.”

  • Ware filed a negligence lawsuit against the plaza, emphasizing the need for the shopping center to have sufficient security measures in place to safeguard both employees and patrons. He suggested that if adequate security had been present, the assailant might have been deterred from targeting the area.

  • During a press conference on Thursday, Troung read a heartfelt statement expressing the immense difficulties she has faced, including the responsibility of caring for her children amid shock and grief.

  • “If only I had been protected during the robbery, maybe I wouldn’t have ended up as harmed as I am today,” Troung stated. “I thought buying tickets during the day was a safe and simple activity. But I never expected that when the robbery happened, there wouldn’t be anyone to protect or help me. I really lost faith in life.”

The plaza’s response:

  • In response, the plaza pointed out that the attack was a targeted robbery case, wherein the victim was followed from a bank 30 miles away after she withdrew cash. Deqing Yang at Allwin Insurance Agency told Click2 Houston, “While Dun Huang Plaza has adequate security control with onsite security patrols, in cases of targeted robbery like this, the incident can happen so quickly that security guards may not be immediately available on the scene.”

  • According to Yang, the plaza pays for monthly patrols and for the presence of a security guard during certain hours. Although they acknowledged the challenges posed by targeted robberies, the plaza suggested the need for broader community safety efforts from the government, citing staffing shortages in the City of Houston's prosecution system.

  • “The government needs to work on community safety. According to news reports, in the past few years, the City of Houston has had over 260,000 cases that were not prosecuted due to a lack of employees. We definitely need a change for this, as without community protection, no area is truly safe,” Yang noted.

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