The prior owner of my car was Hieu Van Tran. Hieu, 31, owned and operated an import auto shop in Vista. He worked on German and Japanese cars, primarily. As time and finances permitted, he was restoring a classic 240Z, which was his dream car. He took pride in the rare original white interior and the triple Mikuni JDM racing carburetors that he had sourced at considerable expense.
Hieu deftly swapped in an L28, and he was just about finished with a street-shaking setup including headers, milled head work, lightened crank, an aggressive cam, flat top pistons, and other race mods pushing an 11:1 compression ratio. He showed his sense of humor by welding in a "Miller Light" aluminum sign as a heat shield for the manifolds. Unfortunately, Hieu had a few extracurricular activities that led him down a long and winding road that took him far away from his Z.
It all started with excursions to the Pala casino. Hieu played himself out, and eventually he started gambling on credit. When the credit dried up, he started selling off the shop tools and equipment, just sure that he was one big jackpot away from paying it all back, changing his life, and driving his Z into the sunset. Instead, he sold off so much of the shop tools that he and his mechanics could no longer work on cars, and his business began to fail.
By then, Hieu had already turned to drugs to separate himself from the reality of his self-destruction. As his debts mounted and his gambling addiction only burned hotter, it was an easy step for him to move up the chain, and begin pushing the methamphetamines that he was addicted to. The extra income actually stabilized his life for a time, as he was able to pay back some of the loans, and even began pushing some long-overdue customer projects through the shop.
This was only the calm before the storm. Hieuís addictions to both gambling and drugs quickly adjusted to the new income, and he became more desperate than ever. In the wee morning hours of October 4, 2006, Hieu went to a mobile home on Adams Drive in Pauma to collect on a drug debt. As it was with all of Hieuís income, that drug money was already spent at the Pai Gao table, and it was time to collect from this customer.
Several druggies and near-destitute people were sharing this home, and they were quite startled when Hieu, amped up on crystal meth, came pounding at their aluminum door in the middle of the night. He shouted obscenities into the home, demanding payment and threatening the deadbeat doper. One of the occupants of the house, uninvolved in the dispute, was Jason Lee Gillespie. Emboldened by the advantage of numbers and the cold steel of a shotgun in his hands, Jason flung the trailer door open and slammed the butt end of his shotgun into the face of Hieu.
The next moments sealed the fate of two people forever. Jason Gillespie, six foot five and 240 pounds, towered before Hieu, his shotgun still turned backwards from the butt-stroke he had delivered. Hieu blinked away the stars flashing in his concussed eyes, and reached into his waistband for the semiautomatic pistol he had brought along just for this kind of occasion. Hieu drew the pistol, cocked the hammer, and brought it up to bear on the head of Jason Gillespie. Someone was going to die tonight.
Bone, blood, muscle, sinew, and partially digested Nem Nuong erupted into the blackness as the entire contents of Hieuís torso were instantly ejected out of his back by the brute force of a point-blank shotgun blast. Laying there in shock, bleeding to death and without lungs to breathe, Hieuís problems in life came to an end that morning.
Jason Gillespieís problems had just begun. His story is just as fascinating, but since he was not a former owner of the car he does not get a full writeup. Jason hid the weapon under a neighborís trailer, fled the area, and evaded the police for two months. He was eventually found in Palm Springs. At 4 AM on Nov 27th, a rookie cop saw a vehicle with its tail lights out, and attempted to pull it over. The driver fled, and a high speed pursuit followed.
The driver, Jason Gillespie, eventually ran over too many curbs, popped a tire, and broke down. He abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. The officer gave chase, and after a footrace, the towering man (6í5, 240 pounds at booking) jumped halfway up a wall and begun to climb up. At that point, the officer caught him, overpowered him with kung-fu grip action, and detained him by forcing him to the ground and dominating him until backup arrived a few minutes later.
The cop was a 5í2Ē woman. And Jason was armed with an Uzi strapped over his back. Three assault rifles, two knives, a set of brass knuckles, 2.3 grams of meth, and various drug paraphernalia were found in the car.
Big bad got-his-ass-kicked-by-a-mini-girl Jason Gillespie was booked, extradited, tried, convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and sentenced to 21 years to life in the San Diego County jail. His prior convictions for auto theft, in 1998, and assault, in 1999, subjected him to the three strike rule, and he will not be eligible for parole for a long, long time.
The family sold the Z quickly. I tried to buy it directly, but a guy in Vista swooped in and bought it before I could. One month later, he had fallen on hard times, and he had to sell the car at a loss. I purchased the entire vehicle for the approximate used market value of the triple carburetors. As partial payment, the guy I bought it from accepted an airsoft assault rifle in trade.