Sonoma coast killing gang-related, police say

Henry K. Lee, SF Chronicle

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

(03-03) 14:29 PST JENNER — The slaying of a man whose bullet-riddled body was found in a parking lot on the Sonoma County coast was gang-related, authorities said Monday.

Four men were arrested Sunday in connection with the shooting: David Prak, 19, Sarith Prak, 21, Preston Kahoone, 22, and Quentin Russell, 24. All four were booked on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

The victim was identified as Vutha Au, 24, of Santa Rosa. Police did not give a motive for the shooting but said the suspects are “members of a criminal street gang who knew and associated with Au.”

Au was found about 1:15 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot above Blind Beach, just south of the hamlet of Jenner, authorities said. He had been shot nine times, including in the head, neck and torso, from various angles, according to an autopsy by the Sonoma County coroner’s office. The suspects were stopped by a sheriff’s deputy who saw them in a car in Monte Rio, about 10 miles east of Jenner on Highway 116.

Authorities were on the lookout for the car because a state park ranger had seen it on Goat Rock Road, west of Highway 1, speeding away from the crime scene just before he discovered the shooting victim’s body.

Statements from the men and witnesses and “physical evidence that was located at two separate crime scenes” led to the men’s arrests, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement. Investigators did not discuss the whereabouts of the second crime scene.

Police said they had found the gun used to kill Au but were still looking for his car, a silver 2006 four-door Honda Accord, California license plate 5UJU394.

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