Charges: Man intended to kill Bloomington restaurant patron, struggled with diners

A police officer holds a photo of a murder suspect
Bloomington police chief Booker Hodges displays a booking photo of Aaron Le, charged in a fatal shooting at a restaurant last week. “He almost got away,” the chief said of precautions he alleged Le took to conceal his identity.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 4:20 p.m. | Posted: Monday, Nov. 28

Hennepin County prosecutors Monday charged a Lakeville man with murder and attempted murder in connection with a shooting last week at a Bloomington restaurant.

Authorities say Aaron Le, 47, walked in to Co Tu restaurant on Penn Avenue Wednesday wearing a Halloween mask and fatally shot a man who was eating lunch there. He also allegedly shot and wounded a restaurant employee, who was hospitalized.

According to the criminal complaint, people in the restaurant struggled with Le, who dropped his gun. Prosecutors allege that Le then pulled out a second gun and opened fire. Investigators have video of the “events just before the shooting, the shooting itself, and the suspect’s escape.”

The restaurant’s owner and employees said the man who was killed “was a regular customer and normally came to lunch at the restaurant” on the day and time he was shot.

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The Hennepin County Medical Examiner identified the man as Tu Anh Phan, 49, of Prior Lake.

Police in Oklahoma arrested Le on Thanksgiving Day after investigators tracked his mobile phone.

Prosecutors say the man Le killed had allegedly been in a romantic relationship with Le's ex-wife.

Bloomington police chief Booker Hodges said he believed prosecutors would have grounds to seek a grand jury indictment for first-degree premeditated murder.

“You come in there with surgical gloves, a mask, a hoodie and you come in there with weapons in a Ziploc bag. Obviously, there was some planning that went into this,” Hodges said.

The criminal complaint also notes that the FBI received a report in August of a "contract to kill" involving Le, his ex and the victim.

At a news conference Monday, Hodges said Le had falsely reported to authorities that the murder victim had tried to kill him.

“[It] turned out to be unfounded,” Hodges said. “The suspect in this case had submitted a tip to the FBI claiming that the homicide victim in this case and Mr. Le's ex wife, were plotting to kill Mr. Le and had a hit on him. It was the other way around.”

Le is jailed in Oklahoma and is awaiting extradition to Minnesota.