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Former UC Irvine student threw his mother out of campus building then jumped to her death, police say

A 36-year-old man and his 77-year-old mother were found dead on the floor at UC Irvine’s Social Science Plaza B. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

A former UC Irvine student allegedly threw his mother off a building on campus before jumping to death on Tuesday in an incident authorities are investigating as a murder-suicide.

The bodies of Andrew Nguyen Doan, 36, and Thao Thi Nguyen, 77, both of Irvine, were found in a plaza at the School of Social Sciences on Tuesday afternoon, according to the police department in ‘Irvine.

“The investigation determined that Doan picked up Nguyen and threw her from the landing of a multi-story building,” police said. “Doan then jumped from the same landing to his death.”

Doan was a biological sciences major at UC Irvine from September 2017 to June 2019; he did not graduate, according to UCI spokesman Tom Vasich.

Campus police received multiple 911 calls reporting two people on the ground outside a building just before 4 p.m. Tuesday, Irvine police said. The couple’s bodies were found in the plaza at block 200 of Pereira Drive.

The motive for Tuesday’s fatal incident is not known, but police said they contacted Doan “several times in the past”, most recently in 2019 for “mental health issues”.

Orange County Superior Court records show Doan pleaded guilty on July 10, 2020, to sexual assault in connection with an incident that occurred about a year prior.

The 2019 case involved a sexual assault of her roommate at a mental hospital, said Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Court records show Nguyen posted $100,000 bail for his son on September 26, 2019 and was later sentenced to 156 days in jail and three years probation.

Doan’s probation ended on July 22 of this year, according to court records.

Friday was the last day of the fall term on the Orange County campus, so few students were there when the bodies were found, Vasich said. Still, the university made counselors available to students and others affected by the incident on Wednesday.

Signs with phone numbers for suicide prevention lines and similar messages are posted in stairwells near where the bodies were found, Vasich said, and there are other signs to various locations on campus.

In 2014, 25-year-old Maxwell Chorak of Santa Ana jumped to his death from a social science building on the UC Irvine campus, authorities say. He died in the same square where the bodies of Nguyen and Doan were found on Tuesday.

Chorak’s stepfather, Matthew Holtzmann, wrote in a personal blog post at the time that his stepson had suffered from mental health issues.

He wrote of the site where his son had jumped: “The car park structure had suicide prevention tiles with hotline numbers cemented into the walls from the third floor up. It was the culmination of the worst nightmare of all parents.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.


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