Boston's Chinatown Massacre: A New Look Amid an Ongoing Manhunt, 30 Years Later

In an original NBC10 Boston documentary, the man who found the lone survivor of the 1991 shooting shares his story for the first time — what he saw is still ingrained in his memory three decades later

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

It is one of the deadliest crimes in Boston history.

Inside a social club in Chinatown, a group of people had gathered to play cards in the early morning hours of Jan. 12, 1991.

Three armed men walked into the basement of the Tyler Street property and shot six people in the head. The execution-style murders left five people dead.

“It was so surreal. It was like being in a movie,” recalled Harold “Bud” Farnsworth, who worked as a security guard at nearby New England Medical Center.

Farnsworth found the lone surviving victim bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. Miraculously, the man survived and was the crucial witness who identified the murder suspects to detectives.

Farnsworth, who was urged to keep a low profile in the aftermath of the shootings, shared his story for the first time with NBC10 Boston. The details of what he saw inside the social club were still ingrained in his memory three decades later.

“I’m used to dead people and used to death from transporting people from their hospital rooms to the morgue,” Farnsworth said. “But nothing like that.”

The massacre had a lasting impact on the tightly-knit neighborhood of Chinatown. It also exposed criminal underworld of rival Asian gangs.

“Everybody was in shock. It just doesn’t happen in Boston. We don’t encounter massacres. That was just unheard of,” said Richard Soo Hoo, a community leader and business owner who was born and raised in Chinatown.

The suspects fled the country in the aftermath of the murders, launching a global manhunt. Two of the men, Siny Van Tran and Nam The Tham, were eventually captured in China and extradited back to the United States. They were convicted of the murders in Suffolk County and are serving life sentences inside a Massachusetts prison after unsuccessfully appealing their convictions.

The FBI recently placed the case back in the spotlight, announcing a reward on the 30-year anniversary of the massacre for information leading to the arrest of the third gunman, Hung Tien Pham.

In an original documentary, NBC10 spoke with community members, who reflected on the infamous crime and provided insight on the historic neighborhood’s dynamic in the 1990s.

NBC10 also interviewed investigators from the FBI and Boston Police Department about possible motives behind the massacre and the ongoing search for closure to the case. Pham, the fugitive still eluding authorities, would be 60 years old today.

“He’s out there somewhere and somebody knows where he is,” said Lt. Dan Duff, a 31-year BDP veteran who supervises unsolved cases.

Contact Us