A deceased 72-year-old Asian man was identified as the sole shooter at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif., that killed 10 and injured 10 others late Saturday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Sunday night.
After a massive manhunt for the gunman, Huu Can Tran, of Hemet, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a white van in a strip mall parking lot in Torrance, Calif., about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park. KABC-TV helicopter video earlier showed a person slumped over in the driver’s seat with SWAT vehicles surrounding it.
Authorities searched for the van based upon a vehicle description though the license plate had been changed.
@LASDHQ says Huu Can Tran, 72, killed 10 people and hurt 10 others. Mass shooting during Lunar New Year festivities at
Star Ballroom Dance Studio, Monterey Park. Two heroes disarmed him at Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra and stopped him from killing more people. @KTLA pic.twitter.com/5awTFq3hjh
— Gene Kang (@GeneKangTV) January 23, 2023
On the eve of the Lunar New Year, the shooting occurred at 10:22 p.m. at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, which was mostly frequented by Asians in San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Capt. Andrew Meyer told reporters. Monterey Park is about 7 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
The same gunman was later linked to an incident at 10:30 p.m. at another dance studio in the neighboring suburb of Alhambra, north of Monterey Park, in which a man fled and a weapon was seized by two community members.
“They saved lives,” Luna said. “This could’ve been much worse. The weapon that we recovered at that second scene I am describing as a magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol. Not an assault rifle, but an assault pistol that had an extended large capacity magazine attached to it.”
Luna earlier said a “very preliminary description” was that the suspect was an Asian man 30 to 50.
Around 11:30 a.m. local time, the sheriff’s department released a special bulletin with images of a suspect, who the agency “should be considered armed and dangerous.” The image was taken from the second incident and the name wasn’t given.
The sheriff, during an afternoon news conference, said, “from a public safety perspective, we want people to see who this is, and then give us any information that they may have about his whereabouts.”
At 1:30 p.m., the Special Enforcement Bureau of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department tweeted the opertion “has concluded. Neighborhood safe.”
During the evening news conference, the sheriff said “several pieces of evidence” linked to both incidents were found inside the van used by the suspect. That included a handgun.
“We still are not clear on the motive,” Luna said. “The investigation continues … we want to know how something this awful can happen.”
The shooting took place in a community of 61,000 that is 65% Asia.
The city’s Chinese New Year event that was scheduled to be extended into Sunday was canceled, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Weise said.
Tran, an immigrant from China, at one time had regular presence at the studio, including meeting his ex-wife there, three people who knew him told CNN. A judge approved the divorce in 2006, Los Angeles court records show.
Ten people died at the scene — five men and five women — and 10 others were transported to local hospitals in conditions from stable to critical. In an update, seven remain hospitalized.
No identifies of the dead or injured were released.
“I don’t have the specific ages because they have not been identified but they’re not in their 20s or 30s,” Lina said. “They seem to be probably, I would say, in their 50s, 60s, and maybe some even beyond that.”
Luna said some of his least-experienced officers arrived at the scene of carnage.
“When they came into the parking lot, it was chaos,” the sheriff said. “There were wounded people, there were people trying to flee out all of the doors. They immediately went into action and within just a couple of minutes, those officers had entered the location looking for the suspect.
“Inside, they came across a scene that none of them had been prepared for. There were injured people inside. There were dead people inside. And my young officers did their job and searched for a suspect and then came back and had to deal with the carnage that was inside. And it was extensive.”
Seung Won Choi, who owns a seafood barbecue restaurant across from the scene of the shooting, told the Los Angeles Times three people rushed into his restaurant and told him to lock the door.
Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia, the first Asian American to hold citywide office in L.A., wrote on Twitter: “Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom posted on Twitter: “No one should have to fear going to a celebration with their community. Our thoughts are with the victims and all those impacted.”
President Biden ordered all U.S. flags at public buildings to be flown at half-staff to honor the victims.
“Even as we continue searching for answers about this attack, we know how deeply this attack has impacted the Asian American and Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPI) community,” Biden wrote in a statement. “Monterey Park is home to one of the largest AA and NHPI communities in America, many of whom were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this weekend.”
Several other mass murders have occurred in Southern California.
On Christmas Eve in 2008, a man dressed as Santa Claus entered a home in Covina with five handguns. Nine people died in that shooting, including the gunman’s former wife and her parents. The gunman died by suicide hours later.
In 2015, a terrorist attack killed 14 in San Bernardino.
In 2018, 12 people died in a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.
Agencies involved are the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau, the Monterey Park Police and others.
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