More details emerge in La Jolla stabbing case

“This was just an isolated incident,” San Diego police Lt. Paul Phillips said of an incident that left a woman with stab wounds and a suspect dead.

The victim in a stabbing at a Windansea hotel has been released from the hospital, hours after her injuries were reported and the suspect was found dead.

Police responded to a July 8 12:05 a.m. emergency call placed from The Shoal La Jolla Beach hotel on La Jolla Boulevard, Phillips said at a press conference.

The suspect, identified as the hotel’s receptionist, Aaron Tran, 23, checked two women, in their 20s and not California residents, into The Shoal.

Two hours after he ended his shift at 10 p.m., Tran used the hotel’s phone to call the women’s room saying “there was a leak next door and that he needed to come into their unit to check,” Phillips said.

 

One woman allowed Tran into the room, where he showed her a typed note on his cell phone that “told her not to say anything, not to scream, he had a knife and he would stab her if she did,” Phillips said.

The woman looked up and saw Tran carrying a pocket knife and a struggle ensued. The woman screamed and was stabbed once in the upper chest near her collarbone and a second time on her arm.

Both women fled to the parking lot, where they called 911, Phillips continued; Tran fled the area in a white Honda Accord.

San Diego police had been searching citywide for 30 minutes for the vehicle when a sergeant spotted the car near the Embarcadero and began to initiate a stop.

Within five minutes, SDPD received calls from Navy Pier “where that same vehicle was seen going … 80 miles an hour going toward the end of the pier [and] crashed and essentially flipped over into the water,” Phillips said. 

San Diego rescue workers pulled the car and driver from the water, but the driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tran’s body appeared to have self-inflicted knife wounds on his throat, Phillips said, but no cause of death is yet available, pending San Diego County medical examiner review.

The injured victim – whose name has not been released – was treated at the hospital and later released. “She’s doing well,” Phillips said.

The investigation is ongoing; a motive is not yet known, though it is clear the suspect and victim didn’t know each other previously.

Tran did not have a criminal record, lived with his parents in San Diego and had been working at The Shoal for about six months, Phillips said.

“It’s going to take some time,” Phillips said, “but we’ll go through his phone [which remained behind at the hotel] and computers and try to figure out what he was up to and why he did what he did.”

Agreeing the suspect’s actions were bold, Phillips has “been here for 33 years [and] never heard of anything like this,” he said.

“La Jolla’s … a very safe area,” Phillips said, adding the victim reacted appropriately. “She fought, she screamed and she got out of there.”

“I’m just grateful that they’re okay,” he added.

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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