Now I can, thanks to Molly Ann. She was Tommy’s fiancé.
Molly Ann generously shared case information, personal details, and gave me a picture of Tommy to use on my website. Most important of all, in one of her clippings is a sketch from the murder suspect.
Let’s start with the case.
The case summary as I had in 2016, is basically correct. I did find other articles but with repeated information. From all articles, the one point of confusion remains how many robbers there were that night.
We know for sure that there were three friends who had been bowling in Torrance. Tommy was driving with the other two in his car. They dropped off one unidentified friend and they went inside their home. The other friend, David Jones, went to his parked car. At that time, Tommy and David’s cars were side-to-side.
Then, either two or three robbers appeared. According to the LA Times of Dec 21, 2001 there were two men. The Easy Reader mentioned two or three as did the Community Newspaper of the Beach Cities of Dec 20, 2001.
One man had a handgun, the papers said it was a 9mm. Under threat, Jones gave up his wallet. For unknown reasons, the gunman then turned to Tommy who was still sitting in his car. The killer shot him four times in the left shoulder and chest wall area.
This killer is described as an African-American man in his early 20s, 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, goatee with a short haircut. You can see his sketch here. This sketch was published in the Beach reporter from December 28, 2001 and various other area papers.
A substantial reward was raised to get people talking about this crime. In 2002, the reward was $70’000 with gifts from an anonymous Manhattan Beach business owner, the Chan Family, and the Manhattan Beach City Council.
Police believe that the victims were randomly chosen as there is no indication that they were followed since they left Torrance.
Thomas “Tommy” Chan (Jul 11, 1965 – Dec 14, 2001) was born in Hong Kong. He was the youngest of three children. The family emigrated to the USA when he was just eight years old.
Tommy was a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, College of Science and Engineering. A manager (senior systems analyst) at Prime Advantage, an El Segundo Company, he enjoyed relaxing by playing volleyball, bowling, chess, bunco, and traveling. He had a great sense of humour, was kind, and always willing to help others.
His fiancé, Molly Ann, told me that they were together for 5 1/2 years. She mentioned her surprise reading that either Tommy or David might not have complied with the robbers. She said “Tom always said if someone wants the car let them have it.” So, what happened?
Witnesses told police that two men fled in a blue, newer-model Hyundai or Toyota Camry. This year is the 20th anniversary of this senseless crime. At the time of writing, Tommy’s case is not featured on any LA law enforcement agency’s cold case website. I think we should circulate the suspect’s sketch.
Anyone with information is asked to please call the reward hotline at (310) 802-5171.
Thank you, Molly Ann, for contacting me.
Rest in peace, Thomas Chan, knowing that you are not forgotten.