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Mom Accused Of Shooting 2 Sons In Head Was In Heated Custody Dispute With Her Ex

Trinh T. Nguyen is accused of shooting her sons, Jeffrey “JT” Tini, 13, and Nelson Tini, 9, in their heads and attempting to shoot her neighbor and ex-nephew-in-law, Gianni Melchiondo. The Tinis are not expected to survive.

A police handout of Trinh Nguyen

A Pennsylvania mother is accused of shooting her two sons in the head while they were sleeping before allegedly trying to shoot her ex-husband’s nephew and co-worker.

Trinh T. Nguyen, 38, has been charged with three counts of attempted homicide and one count of possession of an instrument of crime following the Monday shootings of her two sons, Jeffrey “JT” Tini, 13, and Nelson Tini, 9, and the alleged attempted shooting of Gianni Melchiondo, 22, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office stated in a press release.

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said at a news conference that the boys were not expected to survive the gunshot wounds to their heads and the charges would be upgraded to murder once their organs were donated, according Philadelphia NBC affiliate WCAU.

The police in Upper Makefield Township — with is northeast of Philadelphia on the New Jersey border — were dispatched to a home on Monday morning after a report of an armed subject. 

“There, police learned from a 22-year-old victim that Nguyen, his neighbor, handed him a box of photos and asked him to give the box to her ex-husband, who he worked with,” the press release states. “When the victim turned around to face Nguyen, he saw Nguyen pointing a black revolver to his face. Nguyen pulled the trigger two times, but the gun did not fire.”

The 22-year-old then wrapped Nguyen “in a bear hug and eventually disarmed her,” after which she claimed the gun was not loaded. Melchiondo unloaded the gun, returned it and then went into his half of the duplex and locked the door; Nguyen allegedly fled in a minivan. As a BOLO for her was issued, law enforcement checked on her two sons, ages 13 and 9, in her home. 

“Upon entry, both boys were found with gunshot wounds to their heads,” the press release states. The two were reportedly shot in their beds, NBC Philadelphia reports, and not expected to survive.

Nguyen was arrested hours later after she was located at a nearby church. She was transported to a hospital “due to the indication that she was under the influence,” the district attorney’s office states.

Court records obtained by NBC Philadelphia reveal that divorce proceedings between Nguyen and her ex-husband, Ed Tini — the biological father of her 9-year-old — had concluded but the couple was involved in a messy custody battle.

In 2015 — the same year that Nguyen and Tini were married — he had accused her of fleeing with their child to Texas and threatening to never return. It's unclear the precise status of their relationship in the ensuing years but, in 2021, they began divorce proceedings. They were to split proceeds from the sale of a house as well as custody of their son, and Nguyen was to receive monthly support payments as well as permission to take their son to Vietnam every other summer.

In July 2021, Nguyen accused her estranged husband of not complying with the custody agreement by failing to get a passport for their son, according to NBC News.

Attorneys for her ex-husband had then alleged that Nguyen was a flight risk and that they feared that she would kidnap their client’s son and take him to Vietnam, never to return. Nguyen, they said, apparently owed $11,000 in back rent to her ex-sister-in-law, Corrina Tini-Melchiondo, from whom she had been renting, and had few sources of income.

A new custody agreement between Nguyen and Tini took effect on April 4, according to WCAU; Nguyen was scheduled to be evicted from the home on Tuesday — the day after the shootings — after a judge ruled in Tini-Melchiondo's favor on April 14, according to Cincinnati news station WKRC.

It’s not clear if Nguyen has an attorney in the criminal case.

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