Crime & Justice

Kim Pham beating: Police release photo of 'person of interest' in fatal altercation (Update)

Santa Ana police are seeking this woman as a
Santa Ana police are seeking this woman as a "person of interest" in connection with the beating death of Kim Pham outside a Santa Ana nightclub early on Jan. 18, 2014.
Santa Ana Police Dept.
Santa Ana police are seeking this woman as a
One of many personal messages at a makeshift memorial in downtown Santa Ana for Kim Pham.
Ed Joyce/KPCC

Police have released a photo of a "person of interest" investigators want to question in connection with the fatal beating of a 23-year-old Orange County woman who was assaulted last weekend outside a Santa Ana nightclub.

Police say the individual was one of three women involved in a physical altercation with Kim Pham outside The Crobsy club in downtown Santa Ana.

Pham, a resident of Westminster, was declared dead Tuesday. The Orange County Coroner's Office says she died from blunt force trauma to the head. 

Authorities have arrested and charged one woman, Vanesa Zavala, 25, of Santa Ana, with murder in connection with the altercation.  She faces a pre-trial hearing next week.

Police have also arrested a second woman whom they would only identify as a 27-year-old Santa Ana resident. 

Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas said he was withholding her name while an investigation into the incident continued. Rojas said the suspect had been booked on suspicion  of murder.

Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman with the Orange County District Attorney's Office, said prosecutors have not received the case file on the second suspect. She said she doesn't anticipate any decisions on charges being made until Monday at the earliest. 

Police chief Rojas said Zavala and the second suspect were among a group of five people leaving the club early Saturday morning when the altercation occurred between them and Pham’s group, who'd been waiting to enter the club. 

Investigators are also looking to speak with two men who had been part of the group but are not believed to have been part of the altercation. Rojas said the men had hired attorneys.

"This has been a difficult investigation due to the dynamics of the incident," Rojas said.

He said much of the information police have so far is based on witness statements. Rojas repeated a call for anyone with information to contact investigators. On Thursday, investigators said they were particularly hoping to talk to anyone with cellphone video of the incident. 

Mayor Miguel Pulido called the beating “an isolated incident” and said there was no evidence it was  hate crime.

This post has been updated to correct typos and the Santa Ana Police chief's name.