Waddell Buddhist temple shooting

Arizona Buddhist temple shooting
LocationWaddell, Arizona, United States
DateAugust 9, 1991
Attack type
Mass shooting, mass murder, robbery
  • Johnathan Doody
  • Allessandro Garcia

The Waddell Buddhist temple shooting occurred on August 9, 1991, when nine people were robbed and killed at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist temple in Waddell, Arizona. Their bodies were found on August 10, 1991. The shooting is considered the worst massacre in Arizona's modern history.[1][2]


The victims were all linked to the temple and either Thais or of Thai descent: Pairuch Kanthong, the abbott; five monks, Surichai Anuttaro, Boochuay Chaiyarach, Chalerm Chantapim, Siang Ginggaeo, and Somsak Sopha; a nun, Foy Sripanpasert; her nephew, Matthew Miller, who was a novice monk; and a temple employee, Chirasak Chirapong.[3]

After the shooting, four men from Tucson, referred to as the "Tucson Four", were initially charged with the crime and gave confessions. However, they later recanted the confessions. Afterward, all four were exonerated when it was discovered they had nothing to do with the crime.[1][4] The Tucson Four were released after three months of incarceration. They promptly filed wrongful-arrest civil suits against the Maricopa County sheriff's office. In September 1994, they won a $2.8 million out-of-court settlement offered by Maricopa County.[5]

Subsequently, the police found the murder weapon, a .22-caliber rifle, in the car of a friend of 17-year-old Johnathan Doody, Thai (born May 9, 1974, Nakon Nayok, Thailand),[6] leading the investigation to Doody and 16-year-old Allessandro Garcia (born June 12, 1975).[7] According to Garcia, he and Doody went with the .22-caliber rifle and his 20-gauge shotgun to the temple and robbed it of approximately $2,600 and some A/V equipment. Garcia claimed that Doody panicked, thinking that one of the monks had recognized him as a brother of a temple-goer, then shot all of the victims in the head with the rifle, while Garcia shot four of them again in the torso with the shotgun.[3][4] According to Garcia, the crime had been planned and leaving no witnesses was part of it.[4]