She feared for her home and for her child, but Emma Nguyen did not fear for her life.
The former owner of The Abyss, a popular Sunnyvale nightclub that catered to the South Bay's Asian community, Nguyen moved to Southern California after she lost her business to permitting troubles -- she lost her liquor license and her business license -- and her home to foreclosure.
She returned to the Bay Area with her young daughter last week for a "baby exchange" with her former boyfriend, Trung Nguyen, who shot her before turning the gun on himself in the parking lot of a San Jose shopping center, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The Nguyens, not related, were locked in a bitter court battle over custody of the child, according to the newspaper. Trung Nguyen, an IBM worker, had discovered that Emanuel "Emma" Nguyen was renting out rooms in the 4,300-square foot home she purchased in 2005 for $1.5 million, despite losing the home to a bank following the loss of the club. He had added this fact to the allegations he was using in court to win custody of their daughter, according to the newspaper.
Nguyen ran The Abyss in Sunnyvale between 2005 and 2009, the newspaper reported. She lost the business after the club had "too many fights" for city permitting officials' liking, the newspaper said. The reputation owning the club earned Nguyen the status of a "Hollywood star" among the Asian community, she told the newspaper.
Friends of Nguyen said they were shocked by her death. They called her a tough woman.
"She wasn't afraid at all," Lisa Jimenez, the bar manager at the nightclub, told the newspaper. "She was one of the toughest females I've ever met. I'm shocked at her ex-boyfriend. I did meet him, went out to dinner, hung out with him. He seemed like a decent enough guy. I don't know what pushed him to do such a thing."
The 17-month-old daughter was nearby when the murder-suicide occurred. She was taken in by Child Protective Services.