Ten people were killed by a gunman at a ballroom dance club during Lunar New Year celebrations. The man was on the run until Sunday, when police found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he had fled in after a second shooting attempt failed.
Sheriff Robert Luna of Los Angeles County said the man was 72-year-old Huu Can Tran and that no other suspects were still out there. At a news conference in the evening, Luna said that it was still not clear why the attack happened. There were also 10 people who were hurt, and seven of them were still in the hospital.
Luna didn’t know how old the victims were for sure, but she thought they were all over 50. The suspect was also carrying what the sheriff called a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was found in the van where Tran’s body was found.
The shooting late Saturday night in Monterey Park, which is mostly made up of Asian Americans, scared a lot of Asian Americans in the Los Angeles area. The city had planned two days of celebrations, which as many as 100,000 people have gone to in the past, but Sunday’s events were canceled after the shooting. Other cities sent more police to keep an eye on the parties.
Earlier on Sunday, police officers spent hours surrounding the van before swarming it and getting inside. The body of a person appeared to be slouched over the steering wheel. The body was later taken out of the car. Luna said that the shooting happened in Monterey Park at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.
Chief of Police for Monterey Park, Scott Wiese, said Sunday night that officers were there three minutes after getting the call. They found chaos and people trying to get out of the club through all the doors. “It was chaos when they got to the parking lot,” Wiese said.
Twenty to thirty minutes after the first attack, the gunman went to the nearby Alhambra and went into the Lai Lai Ballroom. Luna says that people there took the gun away from him, and he ran away. He said that the police started looking for a white van after people said they saw the suspect leave Alhambra in one.
During the search, Luna released pictures from the second location of an Asian man who was thought to be the suspect. The pictures were likely taken by a security camera. The van was found in Torrance, another city with a lot of Asian Americans, about 22 miles (34.5 km) from where the second shooting attempt was made.
Congresswoman Judy Chu also spoke at the news conference. She said that she still has questions about the attack, but she hopes that people now feel safe. “The community was afraid because they thought there was an active shooter and they shouldn’t go to any events,” Chu said. “You are no longer in danger.”
“What did this shooter want to do?” she told me. “Did he have an illness of the mind? Did he beat his wife or girlfriend? How did he get these guns, and did he get them legally?” It was the fifth mass killing in the country this month. It was also the most deadly attack since 21 people were killed in a Texas elementary school on May 24.
A database kept by the Associated Press and USA Today on mass killings in the U.S. shows that 2022 was one of the worst years for the country, with 42 mass killings. This is the second-highest number of mass killings since the tracker was started in 2006. The database says that a mass killing is when at least four people die, not counting the person who did it.
Monterey Park is a city on the eastern edge of Los Angeles that is home to about 60,000 people. Most of the people who live there are Asian immigrants from China or first-generation Asian Americans. The shooting happened in the city’s downtown, where streets were decorated with red lanterns for the Lunar New Year celebrations. A police car was parked near a big banner that said “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”
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The Star Ballroom Dance Studio is just a few blocks from city hall. It is on Garvey Avenue, Monterey Park’s main street, which is full of strip malls with signs in both English and Chinese. The business taught people how to dance tango, rumba, and the fox trot. It also rented out its space for parties and other events. Its website said that on Saturday, from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., it would be holding an event called “Star Night.”
Tony Lai, who is 35 years old and lives in Monterey Park, was shocked to find out on his early morning walk that the sounds he heard during the night were gunshots. “I thought it could have been fireworks. He said, “I thought it might have something to do with the Lunar New Year.” “And there aren’t many fireworks here. This is strange to see. This place is very safe. We’re right in the middle of the city, but it’s very safe.”
Wynn Liaw, who lives about two blocks from the Monterey Park dance studio, was shocked that a crime like this would happen on New Year’s Eve. “Chinese people think Chinese New Year is very, very important,” she said. During this time, “you don’t do anything that will bring bad luck for the whole year.” She took a picture of the activity outside the studio to send to family and friends in China “to show them how crazy the U.S. is getting with all these mass shootings, even on New Year’s Day.”
Aides said that President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland were told about what was going on. Biden said that he and the first lady, Jill Biden, were thinking about those who had been killed or hurt, and he told federal officials to help with the investigation.
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