A “beautiful, smart, hilarious” attorney who fled to the U.S. with her family as a refugee was gunned down as she crossed a busy street Monday morning in midtown Atlanta.
Raylon Browning, 39, has been arrested in the murder of Trinh Huynh, 40, Atlanta Police announced Tuesday at a press conference.
Huynh was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Peachtree Place and Peachtree Street about 7:40 a.m. when she executed at close range by Browning.
“We’re pleased to announce we’ve arrested the person responsible for the homicide,” Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson said at a press conference. “Raylon Browning, 39, of Roswell, Georgia has been charged with murder and is now in custody.”
Tolleson said investigators believe Browning targeted Huynh, but they don’t know the connection between the two yet. It is not known if Browning knew Huynh.
Browning was taken into custody Monday night in Cobb County, Georgia, police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Witnesses Say Browning Surprised Huynh From Behind & Shot Her 3 Times in the Crosswalk
Raylon Browning is accused of fatally shooting Trinh Huynh as she crossed the street early Monday morning, police said.
Witnesses told WGCL-TV that the suspect came up behind Huynh and surprised her, before drawing his gun and shooting her three times.
“She was crossing the road, and he draws out his gun and shoots her three times,” street sweeper Toney Booker told the news station. “She drops, and he takes off running.”
A man who was in his car, and did not wish to be identified, told the news station, “She looked surprised when he came up behind her. She was on her knees, and she kind of like waved her arms and was flagging for help.”
The witness said the gunman stared at him through his car windshield for about five seconds and then ran past him.
“He looked scared when he saw. He thought he was the only one in the intersection,” the witness said.
“Certainly a lot more people could have been hurt, and for that, we are glad,” Atlanta Police homicide commander Lieutenant Ricardo Vazquez told WGCL-TV.
Police released video of the suspect, which you can watch above, recorded just moments before the shooting. According to police, the video led to tips that helped identify Browning.
“It shows that he was very calm before the shooting incident,” Vazquez said. “And then, even though he runs after the shooting incident, he again slows down and just starts to walk away.”
2. Browning Was Already Wanted by Police in a Double Stabbing & Was Arrested After Running a Red Light
Browning was already wanted by police on aggravated assault charges in a stabbing that occurred on Sunday, April 2, WXIA-TV said.
According to police, Browning got into an altercation at 1180 Peachtree Street on April 2, and stabbed two men. They are in stable condition.
Browning knew the victims in the stabbing, police said. He was doing contract work there at the time, police said. He was part of a painting crew, and was not currently working when the stabbing occurred.
“Unknown to us at the time of the homicide yesterday, our suspect, Mr. Browning, was already wanted by APD for aggravated assault charges,” Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson said at a press conference.
An investigator who was working the aggravated assault case told homicide investigators that he recognized Browning while watching the surveillance video on TV. He said “my suspect is your suspect,” Tolleson said.
“We immediately began to work that angle,” Tolleson said. They then also received a credible tip from CrimeStoppers identifying the man in the video as Browning, Tolleson said.
Browning was arrested Monday night after a traffic stop in Cobb County, police said. He was taken into custody as a suspect in the aggravated assault, Atlanta Police said.
Police said Browning ran a red light.
“Cobb County PD made a routine traffic stop on him and they learned he was wanted by APD,” Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson said. “Browning was arrested by Cobb County on the scene. After searching the vehicle a weapon was located.”
Tolleson said they believe the weapon is the gun used to kill Huynh.
“Browning was still wearing the shorts and tennis shoes that we see him in the video with,” Tolleson said.
Police are not sure what Browning did between the time of the shooting and when he was arrested about 9 p.m. in Cobb County.
“They had no idea at the time he was wanted for homicide,” Tolleson said. That wasn’t determined until the morning. “At the time, our detective didn’t even know Raylon Browning was our guy here. It was only after our aggravated assault detective looks at his picture of Raylon Browning and then he sees the video and says ‘this is the same guy,’ notifies homicide and that’s how we begin to put the pieces together.”
3. Huynh, Who Came to the U.S. From Vietnam, Graduated From Princeton & Was a Leader in the Local Legal Community
Trinh Huynh came to the United States from Vietnam with her parents as a refugee in 1979, WGCL-TV reports.
Huynh posted about being a refugee in January:
They settled in Gainesville , Georgia, where she graduated from the local high school. She went on to graduate from Princeton University and Emory Law School.
Huynh began her career at Powell Goldstein LLP, working there from 2004 to 2006, according to her Linkedin profile. She was then a senior associate at Alston & Bird LLP and counsel at the Gibson Law Firm. She worked at her own firm, the Huynh Group, from 2011 to June 2016, when she took a job as in-house counsel at UPS.
“UPS was saddened to hear of the death of one of our corporate attorneys, Trinh Huynh, who joined the company last summer,” UPS said in a statement. “We will cooperate with the Atlanta Police Department through its investigation.”
She was a leader in the local legal community, including with the Georgia Asian Pacific Bar Association.
“Trinh Huynh passionately lived her life, whether as a daughter, sister, friend, or lawyer. She served the Asian American legal community for many years through GAPABA and other bar associations,” the GAPBA said in a statement. “A former Board member, Trinh often attended GAPABA events, where she would share stories from her most recent travels. Her loss is tragic to GAPABA, the many people whom she influenced, and the community at large. She will be greatly missed.”
Huynh was also the president of the Princeton Club of Georgia for several years and was a coach for the Grady High School Mock Trial Team for a decade, according to The Daily Report.
She worked on the advisory board of the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, which provides pro bono legal services to immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and other crimes, the news site reports.
“Huynh’s story of coming to this country as a refugee was so inspiring and she was a big supporter of GAIN’s work,” Cheryl Naja, pro bono and community service director at Alston & Bird, said in an e-mail to The Daily Report.
Her family released a statement about her death:
We have all lost a stalwart member of the community and of our family. Trinh was blessed with grace, style, intelligence, charm and wit and she in turn shared her gifts with all those who knew her. She traveled the world and back again, but ultimately made her home in Atlanta, where she was a tireless volunteer, whether it was coaching mock trial at Grady High School or assisting with refugee relief in Georgia. She was more than an attorney and always strove to be more and to have more in life than just her resume. She loved to dance and she lived every day with passion, love and light. She always had a joke, a smile or an obscure fact to share and she will long be remembered and honored for the way that she lived and not the tragedy of her death.
On Facebook, Huynh’s sister wrote, “My beautiful, smart, hilarious sister… shot on the way to work…There is a void in the world, now, where my role model and inspiration used to be.”
4. Browning Has a Criminal Record, but Nothing ‘Really Violent,’ Police Say
Raylon Browning has a criminal record, but not for anything “really violent,” Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson said.
“He has about eight cycles (of arrests),” Tolleson said. “Some drug arrests, a DUI arrest, when the police have dealt with him in the past he would have a tendency to fight with the police, but nothing you would think that he would go out and do what he is accused of and what we believe he did yesterday.”
He had never been arrested in Atlanta before.
“Nothing we see that would have triggered us to be concerned about him doing what he’s done this past week,” Tolleson said.
5. Police Say the Arrest Is ‘Just the Beginning’ of the Investigation & There Is a Lot They Do Not Yet Know
Police have released few details about the shooting, saying the arrest is just the beginning of the probe.
“This is investigation is not over. We have the person responsible in custody, but that only really begins the investigation,” Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson told reporters. “There is so much more apart of this case that we still don’t know. It is still ongoing, we are not closing this case up.”
He has not made any statements and police do not know the motive for the killing. They are also still working to determine if or how Browning knew Huynh.
“We’re still going through a lot of information to see if there is any kind of relationship with our victim and then what that relationship might have been,” Tolleson said.
Tolleson said they do not believe Browning was a hired hitman.
Browning is being held at the Fulton County jail on the murder charge and two counts of aggravated assault.