Third suspect arrested in connection with killing of Gardena man in Long Beach last May

A third person has been linked to the slaying of a Gardena man who was lured to Long Beach before his death last May, authorities said.

The Long Beach Police Department said in a news release that detectives detained the suspect, a 17-year-old boy, on Feb. 10 at a Los Angeles juvenile detention center where he was being held on an unrelated charge. He was transferred to Long Beach jail this week and booked on suspicion of murder, police said.

The juvenile is linked to the May 16 killing of 22-year-old Austin Thai who was fatally shot in Central Long Beach just after midnight while sitting inside his vehicle, according to the LBPD. The shooting occurred near the intersection of 17th Street and Gaviota Avenue.

Two other suspects had already been arrested in September by LBPD detectives, police said. Thirty-year-old Stephen Duong of Long Beach and a 16-year-old girl were both arrested on Sept. 17, 2020. Duong is being held on $2 million bail and has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, according to court records.

Police said in the news release that detectives believe Thai was lured to the location by one of the juveniles last May where a brief conversation escalated to a shooting.

Criminal cases against juveniles are typically kept confidential, so it’s unclear what the 16-year-old girl has been charged with. Police said they will forward their case against the 17-year-old boy to prosecutors later this week for filing consideration.

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.