Golden Dragon massacre
|Golden Dragon massacre|
1993 photo of Golden Dragon Restaurant.
|Location||816 Washington Street, San Francisco, California, United States|
|Date||Sunday, September 4, 1977
02:40 a.m. (PST)
|Mass murder, massacre, gang-shooting|
|Motive||Rivalry between Joe Boys and Wah Ching gangs|
The Golden Dragon massacre (traditional Chinese: 金龍酒樓大屠殺; simplified Chinese: 金龙酒楼大屠杀; pinyin: Jīnlóngdàtúshā; Jyutping: Gam1lung4daai6tou4saat3) was a gang-related shooting attack that took place on September 4, 1977 inside the Golden Dragon Restaurant, located at 816 Washington Street in Chinatown, San Francisco, California. The five perpetrators, members of the Joe Boys, a Chinese youth gang, were attempting to kill members of the Wah Ching, a rival Chinatown gang. The attack left five people dead and 11 others injured, none of whom were gang members. The perpetrators were later convicted and sentenced in connection with the murders.
The attack was motivated by a longstanding feud between two rival Chinatown gangs, the Joe Boys and Wah Ching. The assassination attempt was retaliation for the death of Felix Huey (Chinese: 許非力), a 16-year-old Joe Boys member who was killed in a shootout with the Wah Ching in Chinatown's Ping Yuen (Peace Garden) housing project (Chinese: 平園住宅房屋大廈) on 4 July 1977.
At 2:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time on the day of Sunday, September 4, 1977, Joe Boy gang member Tom Yu was informed by phone that members of the rival Wah Ching gang were present at the Golden Dragon restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown (Chinese: 三藩市華埠金龍大酒樓). Chester Yu, Curtis Tam, Melvin Yu, and Peter Ng, all members of the Joe Boys (Chung Ching Yee) gang, took firearms and ammunition from a closet in a friend's home in Pacifica, where they had been staying during the weekend, and drove to the restaurant in a car stolen earlier that evening by Peter Cheung. Forty minutes later, at 2:40 a.m., Chester Yu parked the stolen car near the Golden Dragon. Armed with a .45-caliber Commando Mark III rifle (a modern variant of the Tommy Gun), two 12 gauge pump-action shotguns, and a .38-caliber revolver, Curtis Tam, Melvin Yu, and Peter Ng donned nylon stocking masks, and entered the restaurant, looking for members of the Wah Ching. About 100 people, many of whom were tourists, were present at the restaurant at the time of the shooting.
According to Chester Yu, Ng had instructed Tam that he should fire a shot in the ceiling first so that "when the people panic and get down on the floor, we will decide who to shoot." Instead, without warning, the three randomly opened fire on the patrons inside the crowded restaurant, killing five people, including two tourists, and wounding eleven others, none of whom were gang members. The intended targets, who were sitting at a table at the back of the restaurant, were not injured. Up to 10 members of the Wah Ching, including their leader Michael Louie, ducked under tables during the gunfire. Triad member Raymond Kwok Chow, then 17 years old, was among those who survived the attack. Yu then drove the shooters back to the house in Pacifica.
The shooting lasted less than 60 seconds.
The five fatalities at the restaurant:
- Denise Louie (雷典禮), 21
- Calvin M. Fong (方凱文), 18
- Paul Wada (和田保羅), 25
- Fong Wong (黃芳), 48, originally from Hong Kong, a waiter at the Golden Dragon
- Donald Kwan (君唐勞), 20
Arrests and convictions
Curtis Tam was the first person to be arrested for his involvement in the attack, in March 1978. Tam, an emigrant from Hong Kong, was 18 years old and attending Galileo High School during the time of his arrest.
Five men from the Joe Boys were eventually arrested and convicted for the massacre, with three of them still serving prison sentences as of 2013. The perpetrators involved with the murders are Curtis Tam, Melvin Yu, Peter Ng, Chester Yu, and Tom Yu. On 5 September 1978, Curtis Tam was convicted of five counts of second degree murder and 11 counts of assault. In September 1978, Melvin Yu was convicted of five counts of first degree murder and 11 counts of assault. Tom Yu was convicted of five counts of first degree murder, eleven counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in state prison. The entourage following a Proctor and Bergman show were eating when the incident occurred. When Army veteran Peter Bergman realized the perpetrators had emptied their weapons he rose from cover in time to see their faces as they exited. He later testified in their conviction.
An ex-Joe Boys member, Bill Lee, wrote about the killings and his life as a Joe Boys gangster in his book, Chinese Playground: A Memoir.
The Golden Dragon restaurant continued operation shortly after the massacre, but was closed in January 2006 after a failed health inspection. The restaurant also owed a year's worth of paychecks to its employees. It was reopened as the Imperial Palace Restaurant.
- List of massacres in the United States
- Wah Mee massacre, a similar mass shooting in Seattle
- 101 California Street shooting, another mass murder that took place a short distance away from the Golden Dragon, in San Francisco's financial district, in 1993.
- Golden Dragon Massacre
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- Massacre Suspect Convicted, Associated Press, 26 September 1978.
- Gang Task Force, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 September 2007.
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- Golden Dragon Closes and owes a million..., San Francisco Chronicle, 7 October 2006.