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Pasco garage owner from Vietnam was victim in murder-suicide, friends say

They say Tina Pham, who ran three shops in western Pasco County, was killed by her partner Sunday. The Sheriff’s Office released few details.
 
Friends and former employees left flowers and candles outside ABC Tire and Auto shop in New Port Richey. They gathered there Monday to remember owner Tina Pham.
Friends and former employees left flowers and candles outside ABC Tire and Auto shop in New Port Richey. They gathered there Monday to remember owner Tina Pham. [ Natalie Weber ]
Published Feb. 8, 2022|Updated Feb. 9, 2022

NEW PORT RICHEY — About a dozen employees, current and former, gathered outside ABC Tire and Auto Repair on Monday night — not to talk shop, but to remember the life of their beloved boss.

Tina Pham, 43, was shot and killed by her husband Sunday afternoon before he took his own life, they said.

Few details about the deaths have been released. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said it would not identify the two because of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.

In a news release, the Sheriff’s Office stated only that a murder-suicide involving a couple in a domestic relationship took place in Trinity West.

Friends took to Facebook to remember Pham and the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Tuesday that the bodies of Tina and Binh Pham were under examination there. The couple owned a home in the Trinity West neighborhood, at 2553 Micah Dr., property appraiser’s records show.

“I can’t believe it,” Johnny Mendez, one of Pham’s former employees, said Monday.

Mendez met Tina Pham 15 years ago at the shop, 5532 U.S. Highway 19. He said Pham also owned the buildings for Tony’s Garage across the street as well as A ABC Tires in Hudson.

For Mendez, part of the shock in Pham’s death was the timing: The couple had taken a trip to California just last week, he said.

Pham was a native of Vietnam and mother of three children, said 43-year-old K.C. Messer, who worked as a mechanic in one of Pham’s shops. Messer was shocked when a friend broke the news to him Sunday night.

“So many questions,” Messer said in a Facebook message to the Tampa Bay Times. “This is not who either were.”

Messer said he knew Pham for seven years. He didn’t know much about her personal life but recalled that she told him she had come to the United States in search of a better life for her children.

Messer said he was heartbroken. As a boss, Pham was kind to her employees, he said.

“She was a strong woman, but everyone liked her,” Messer said. “She always smiles and was as nice as can be.”

How to get help

If you are in immediate danger of domestic violence, call 911. The Florida Coalition of Domestic Violence can be reached at 800-500-1119. There are local agencies in the Tampa Bay area to reach out to for help.

In Hillsborough County, you can call or text The Spring of Tampa Bay’s 24-hour crisis line at 813-247-7233 or visit online at thespring.org.

In Pinellas County, you can call the Community Action Stops Abuse 24-hour hotline at 727-895-4912, text casa-stpete.org/chat or visit casapinellas.org.

In Pasco County, you can contact Sunrise of Pasco County at its 24-hour hotline at888-668-7273 or 352-521-3120, or go online at www.sunrisepasco.org.

Editor’s note: This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org, or call the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay by dialing 2-1-1 or its first responders hotline at 866-435-4376.