A Visalia man who was reported missing last week was arrested in a suspected murder plot against three Bay Area doctors who treated him.
The Palo Alto Police Department said Yue “Randy” Chen, 58, was arrested after Visalia police issued a missing persons report on May 31 and warned Bay Area law enforcement agencies that detectives believed Chen could go to the homes of his three physicians and try to kill them.
The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office filed three attempted murder counts against Chen and one count of carrying loaded firearms. His arraignment is June 28.
In Chen’s initial court appearance on Friday, his public defender, Gary Goodman, sought hospice care for him, but the judge refused. Chen remains in Santa Clara County Jail and can’t bail out, said Charles Huang, a deputy district attorney.
Visalia police said Chen was last seen by family members at 10:30 a.m. May 31 in Visalia, but they told officers they were concerned he could harm himself or others.
Visalia police learned that Chen had rented a sport-utility vehicle and determined that he may have been heading to the Bay Area to harm his doctors after becoming upset about his medical condition and the treatment he was getting.
Visalia police Sgt. Damon Maurice wouldn’t reveal details about Chen’s condition. Palo Alto police wouldn’t release information about Chen’s illness other than to say it was a medical, not mental, condition.
Our investigators talked to his family and found written documents saying he would travel to the Bay Area to kill his doctors.
Sgt. Damon Maurice, Visalia Police Department
“We didn’t know his true intentions, but we felt we needed to notify authorities in the Bay Area,” Maurice said.
As Chen’s plot was uncovered, Visalia police called several Bay Area law enforcement agencies where the targeted doctors were located, as well as other doctors who had treated Chen.
“Our investigators talked to his family and found written documents saying he would travel to the Bay Area to kill his doctors,” said Maurice. “He was upset with his medical care.”
The family was concerned because two guns owned by Chen were missing when he left home. Maurice said the weapons were lawfully registered to Chen.
Family members were unaware that he had rented a vehicle, Maurice said.
A bulletin to be on the lookout for Chen also was broadcast to police agencies statewide.
Detectives determined that Chen had likely intended to go to the doctors’ homes, not their workplaces, to shoot them.
Police identified the residences of the doctors, in case Chen planned to target them there.
About 8 p.m., the CHP found and stopped Chen on Highway 101 and Hellyer Avenue in San Jose, in his red 2017 Nissan Rogue rental that Visalia police earlier advised he would be driving.
Inside the vehicle, Chen had two loaded semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines with 32 and 16 rounds within his reach.
CHP officers arrested Chen without incident and took him to a local hospital for treatment of his medical condition. In addition to the guns, Huang said Chen had a rubber mask to conceal his face and a notebook containing locations and addresses for his doctors.
“Visalia took the initial missing person report and learned that it wasn’t a run-of-the-mill missing person report, but a man who had homicidal intentions toward his doctors, that’s when we became involved,” said Palo Alto police Lt. James Reifschneider.
In addition to Visalia, Palo Alto and the CHP, four other law enforcement agencies took part in the search and investigation because of the locations of the doctors’ offices, facilities they worked in and where they lived, Reifschneider said.
“We weren’t sure if he was headed to homes or businesses, and we didn’t know if the doctors were home or at work, so we had to get in touch with all of them them to make sure they were aware of the threats,” he said.
When Chen was discharged from the hospital late in the evening on May 31, officers from the Palo Alto Police Department booked him into the Santa Clara County Main Jail.
The investigation into Chen’s alleged plot is continuing. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department’s 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.