Updated at the bottom: The investigation is being taken over by the LAPD's Asian Crime Unit. Also note the death of one of the victims after the jump. First posted at 9:03 p.m. on Saturday, July 23.

Two men in their 20s were shot by a masked suspects outside a Little Tokyo nightclub early today, police said. Both were hospitalized in critical condition.

Detectives say it happened about 1:30 a.m. just outside the courtyard entrance of Vault XXI Boutique Lounge, which is in the Little Tokyo Shopping Center at 333 S. Alameda St.

The venue opened last year as an exclusive restaurant-lounge with “bottle service” and chef Michael Martinez handling the menu. Cops say it is “patronized primarily by young Asians,” that the victims are Asian American and that the suspects probably are is too.

LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said, “We're lucky more people were not injured in this attack.”

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Police believe the injured men were the intended targets. Investigators found more than six shell casing from a semiautomatic handgun, they said.

Both victims had to undergo surgery and were “stabilized,” according to an LAPD statement.

Here's what they say happened:

Around 1:30 AM, witnesses described a man, wearing a ski mask, walk into the courtyard from the sidewalk on Alameda Street and start shooting after he barked out a short phrase. Two men in their mid-twenties who were smoking at the entrance to the nightclub were the apparent targets. Both fell from multiple gunshot wounds and crawled into the nightclub's entrance.

The shooter ran back to Alameda Street, then north toward 3rd Street. Witnesses described him as wearing a beige hat, similar to the popular mini fedoras, a dark flannel shirt and jeans.

Cops say there were plenty of witnesses. They're asking people who saw what happened or know more about the attack to call detectives at 213-972-1249.

Update: On Sunday the LAPD stated that one of the victims died yesterday:

Jackie Hoang, 29, of Alhambra died of his wounds yesterday morning at the USC Los Angeles County Medical Center.

Update No. 2: LAPD Det. Det. Al Marengo told the Weekly Wednesday that the department's Asian Crime Unit was taking over the investigation.

Was it a gang attack? “It's possible,” he said. Marengo said it's not exactly clear what the shooter allegedly said to the victims, however.

The surviving man, by the way, was still at a hospital in critical condition, the detective said.


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