Monterey Park mass shooting: Motivation continues after gunman Huu Can Tran kills 10 in dance studio

Monterey Park, CA (KABC) — Authorities are still trying to determine the motive of the gunman who killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a dance studio in Monterey Park in a killing that shocked the community.

The suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was found in a van in Torrance on Sunday with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, ending an hours-long hunt for the gunman.

According to law enforcement, the suspect has no known criminal history. Investigators are looking into whether domestic violence was linked to Saturday’s mass shooting.

The next day, law enforcement officers swarmed into the van associated with the suspect and surrounded it for hours before entering. The body of one person appeared to lie on the wheels and was later removed from the vehicle. At an evening news conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna confirmed that the body found was that of the suspected shooter.

About 17 minutes after Tran opened fire at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue, he fled in the van after he was stopped from attacking another ballroom in Alhambra, authorities said.

At the Alhambra Ballroom, Tran walked in with a gun and some people took it away, Luna said.

Surveillance footage obtained by Eyewitness News showed the moment a man in the banquet hall confronted the suspect and disarmed him. Tran then fled the scene.

Little is known about Tran or his connection to the target community and dance halls. Public records show he used to have addresses in Monterey Park and neighboring cities.

But Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the motive for the attack, which also injured 10 people, was unclear. All those killed appeared to be over the age of 50, Luna said at a news conference Sunday night. According to the sheriff, no other suspects are at large.

“There’s still a question in my mind, which is: What is the motive of this shooter? Is he mentally ill? Is he a domestic abuser? How did he get these guns, did he get them legally? ?” said Congresswoman Judy Chu.

Luna added that the suspect was carrying what he said was a semiautomatic pistol with an extended magazine, which the sheriff said he believes is illegal to possess in California. A second handgun was found in the van where Tran was found dead.

Within three minutes of receiving the call just after 10 p.m. Saturday, deputies were called to the Monterey Park dance studio, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Weiss said late Sunday. There they found a carnage inside and people trying to escape through all the doors.

“When they got into the parking lot, there was chaos,” Weiss said.

“The first officers to arrive on the scene were my youngest officers,” said Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Weiss. “They were only on the street for a short period of time.”

The officers arrived at a scene “none of them were prepared for,” Weiss said, but they went in without hesitation.

Authorities were looking for the white van in which the suspect fled the Alhambra after witnesses reported seeing it flee the Alhambra, Luna said.

Sources told ABC7 that the van’s number plates had been stolen. The Los Angeles County Sheriff picked up the license plate at the Alhambra.Using that license plate information, the Torrance Police Department pulled over the van at around 10:20 a.m.

WATCH: License plate stolen from van linked to Monterey Park shooting suspect, sources say

After the driver pulled into the parking lot, police heard a gunshot from inside the car. Police tactical units were then called to the scene.

“So that information sharing is how the Torrance Police Department was able to do a good job of police by actually spotting this van on the street,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Law enforcement officers gathered in front of the suspect’s mobile home in Hemet on Sunday evening after executing a search warrant.

Tran lived there for about a year, according to neighbors. Pat Roth said he was a dance instructor, but not much else is known about him. He said he lived alone.

“He didn’t make me feel like he had an angry bone in him, but it was just seeing him come and go,” Rose said. “So I don’t know. It’s kind of disturbing.”

Meanwhile, seven wounded people remained in hospital Sunday night, Luna said.

The sheriff said the department typically does not disclose the names of hospitals that treat victims of violent crime. But in this case, he said, a troubling event reinforced the decision to keep the information private.

“Someone called one of the hospitals and said they wanted to go and get this done,” Luna said. “this is too scary.”

“Please, these victims and survivors are dealing with so much. Let’s not cause them any more trauma.”

All families and victims affected by the shooting are urged to attend the Langley Senior Center at 400 W. Emerson Avenue, where there is a crisis response team.

Five women and five men were among the dead, Luna said.

Authorities have not officially identified the victims, but friends have identified one of the victims as dance instructor Ma Mingwei. He is known for his patience and understanding.

Friends say he gave his life to save others.

“Mr Ma was very much loved and respected in the dance world, and he’s been doing that for over 20 years — he tried to stop the shooter, but he passed away,” said his friend Eric Chen.

The Monterey Park massacre was the fifth massacre in the United States this month. It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvaldi, Texas.

The shooting took place in the city center where red lanterns adorn the streets for Lunar New Year celebrations. The celebration in Monterey Park is one of the largest in California. A two-day celebration is planned and as many as 100,000 people have attended in past years. But officials canceled Sunday’s event after the shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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