Episode 46 – Marriage and Murder at the Mirama

An illustration of the Mirama restaurant canopy, torn and tattered.
Illustration by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips

Part 4 of our miniseries about the Mirama Dining & Lounge dim sum restaurant: what exactly happened at the 2004 fight in the restaurant and what is there to know about Asian gangs in Edmonton around the early 2000s?

A photo of Reporter Nathan Fung in front of the site where the Mirama restaurant once stood, with Alex Taylor School in the background.
Reporter Nathan Fung in front of the site where the Mirama restaurant once stood, with Alex Taylor School in the background.

On Saturday night, July 17, 2004, while two separate wedding receptions were happening in the restaurant, a knife fight broke out when gang members from one reception encountered gang members from the other reception. Witnesses said both parties were for Vietnamese-Canadian newlyweds.

A total of seven people were stabbed. Twenty-Four-year-old Tap Cong “James” Tran was found dead at the scene from stab wounds. Police claimed he was related to the groom from the third party reception, who was also stabbed in the throat.

An Edmonton Journal article about the stabbings at the Mirama Dining & Lounge.
Fatal wedding stabbing linked to gang rivalry (Edmonton Journal, Joel Kom, July 20, 2004) The article continues here.

A few minutes after the knife fight, gunshots were fired from the parking lot into all three floors of the restaurant. However, no one was hit by gunfire.

Later that month, 20-year-old Minh Tang, who suffered from major head injuries during the fight, was taken off life support.

Despite the fact that there were over 500 guests in the building, no charges were laid in the two deaths and the case remains open.

spoilers below

We also learned that there was a shooting in retaliation for the two deaths at Mirama. On November 25, 2004, 25-year-old Huy Le Nguyen and three other men were shot in a drive-by shooting outside the Noodle House at 56 Avenue and Calgary Trail. Nguyen died while the others survived.

Then-acting Deputy Chief Ed MacFarlane said the shooting was a message – retaliation for the deaths of James Tran and Minh Tang earlier in July. He also revealed homicide detectives had tried to get the two rival Asian gangs involved to come to some kind of truce in order to prevent further bloodshed. However, neither gang was interested in talking.

By the end of 2004, police said 11 of the 28 homicides that year were gang-related.

Asian organized crime in Edmonton made several headlines from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, prompting EPS to form a unit especially to deal with Asian gangs.

Other noteworthy incidents involving Asian gangs include:

  • A shooting war between two rival Asian gangs involved in heroin and cocaine trafficking that left two people dead and three injured in the summer of 1999.
  • The arrest of over 40 members of the Trang family drug gang in fall 1999. The trial of these gang members was expected to be the largest trial in Alberta’s history. However, the case collapsed several years later.
  • The death of gang leader Long Duy “Crazy Jimmy” Hoang on January 5, 2000 who was killed by police after a car chase on 149 Street.

    An Edmonton Journal article with a photo of Long Duy "Crazy Jimmy" Hoang and his car.
    ‘Crazy Jimmy’ went defiantly into shootout with police
  • On October 26, three gang members accidentally killed an innocent man due to a case of mistaken identity. The victim, 29-year-old John Paul Arruda, drove a similar vehicle to the intended victim.
A photo of Nathan holding a phone with an image of the Mirama restaurant behind Syphay Restaurant. Behind Nathan's hand is the present-day Syphay Restaurant, with no Mirama building.
Comparing the old site of the Mirama to its current absence.

Further reading

Newspaper articles found at the City of Edmonton Archives:

  1. City gangs all fired up (Edmonton Journal, Bill Mah, August 21, 1999)
  2. Hundreds of charges in attack on gangs (Edmonton Journal, Allan Chambers, Mitch Cooper and Ian Williams, August 21, 1999)
  3. Massive trial poses logistical nightmare (Edmonton Sun, Tony Blais, January 7, 2000)
  4. Man shot by police was gang member (Edmonton Journal, Lisa Gregoire, January 7, 2000)
  5. Criminal connections – Wounded man has gang link, says chief, adding budget cuts are hitting cops hard (Edmonton Sun, Jonathan Jenkins, January 7, 2000)
  6. Gang trial waste of money, says critics (Edmonton Sun, The Canadian Press, February 14, 2000)
  7. “I think he got scared” Gang leader in cop shootout was desperate: source  (Edmonton Sunl, Jonathan Jenkins, January 8, 2000)
  8. Gang Killers had the wrong man  (Edmonton Journal, Ian Williams, October 26, 2000)
  9. City violence over the last decade (Edmonton Journal, March 7, 2001)
  10.  Are they organized gangs or just loosely affiliated groups? (Edmonton Journal, Jim Farrell, March 7, 2001)
  11. Gang leader may have shot at police to save face – inquiry (Edmonton Journal, Gordon Kent, June 26, 2002)
  12.  ‘Crazy Jimmy’ went defiantly into shootout with police (Edmonton Journal, Gordon Kent, June 27, 2002)
  13. Shooting not related to others, say police (Edmonton Journal, Ian Williams, August 13, 2002)
  14. Fatal wedding stabbing linked to gang rivalry (Edmonton Journal, Joel Kom, July 20, 2004) (Part 1, Part 2)
  15. Failed gang peace bid (Edmonton Sun, Dan Palmer, December 23, 2004)
  16. Gang violence eludes solution (Edmonton Journal, Renata D’Aliesio, December 23, 2004)

Shout-outs in this episode to ATB’s The Future Of podcast, and CPA Alberta.

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