The man who was found dead in a white van after a standoff with police in Torrance, Calif., has been identified as a suspect in Saturday night’s mass shooting in Monterey Park, according to police.
Huu Can Tran, 72, was pronounced dead at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.
Tran allegedly opened fire at a dance studio in Monterey Park, killing 10 people and injuring more than a dozen more, as the city’s large Asian-American community celebrated the Lunar New Year weekend, Luna said.
SWAT officers were in a standoff for hours at the scene of the white van, which fits the description of a vehicle of interest in the Monterey Park shooting. The Los Angeles Times first reported that the driver of the white van had died.
Law enforcement sources earlier told CNN that when authorities ordered passengers out of the van, they heard voices and believed the driver may have shot himself.
After Tran shot himself, investigators searched the van and found “several pieces of evidence” linking Tran to the Monterey Park shooting and another incident at the nearby Alhambra, when a group of people The dance studio snatched the gun from an armed officer, Luna said.
A handgun was also found inside the van, he said.
Luna said police and investigators are currently working to determine the motive behind the shooting.
• Luna said Huu Can Tran, 72, is believed to be behind the Monterey Park shooting and said there were “no apparent suspects” involved in the massacre.
• Shortly after the mass shooting in Monterey Park, a group of people snatched a gun from what they described as an Asian male at a dance studio in nearby Alhambra, Luna said. Multiple pieces of evidence found in the van linked the shooter to the events at the Alhambra and Monterey Park.
• The sheriff said Sunday it was too early to rule out a possible motive for the hate crime. “Everything is on the table.”
• Officers arrived at a dance studio around 10:22 p.m. Saturday and found people “flowing from the scene, screaming,” the officer said. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
• According to CNN’s analysis, the massacre took place at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.
• Meyer said 10 victims of the massacre were pronounced dead at the scene. “At least 10 other victims were taken to various local hospitals in stable to critical condition,” Meyer said.
• Luna said the coroner’s office was still identifying 10 victims, but the sheriff said they were likely in their 50s, 60s or older.
• Seven people are still hospitalized, according to Luna.
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Weiss said officers were called to the Monterey Park dance studio “less than three minutes” after the initial call Saturday night.
Weiss said they arrived at a “chaotic” scene with people trying to flee and others injured. “They ran into a scenario for which none of them were prepared,” Chief added.
The gun seized from the man in the Alhambra was a Cobray M11 9mm semi-automatic weapon, according to a law enforcement official. The gun was designed to hold a 30-round magazine, allowing for rapid fire without frequent magazine changes.
In response to a reporter’s question, Luna said: “I don’t think the weapons found in the Alhambra are legal in California.”
Luna said community members who disarmed the suspects “saved lives,” calling them “heroes.” “It could have been worse,” he said.
The weapons seized by law enforcement were traced back to the suspect, who provided his name and description to authorities, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case.
Law enforcement sources also told CNN that the suspect may have sought medical attention shortly before the arrest, and that police received information from an area hospital on Sunday that a man matching the suspect’s description had entered the emergency room for treatment for injuries related to the fight. middle.
The source said the man waited for some time before leaving the hospital without receiving treatment.
The massacre happened near the Lunar New Year festival in Monterey Park, scheduled for 9 p.m. on Garvey Boulevard between Garfield Boulevard and the Alhambra.
About 65 percent of Monterey Park’s residents are Asian, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The mayor of nearby Alhambra said that while it was too early to say whether the massacre was a hate crime, the impact was already being felt by one of the largest Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States.
“It’s especially painful to have this kind of tragedy happen over the Lunar New Year weekend,” said Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez tweets.
“Monterey Park is home to one of the largest #AAPI communities in the country. This is a time residents should celebrate with family, friends and loved ones – without fear of gun violence.”
Monterey Park, about seven miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is known for hosting Lunar New Year events that draw more than 100,000 people from across Southern California, according to the city.
It was not immediately clear how many people were still gathered in the area when the shots rang out.
“There was supposed to be a night of Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and relentless act of gun violence.” Gavin Newsom tweets.
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Weiss said Sunday that the local Lunar New Year festival, which was scheduled to start on Saturday and run through Sunday, has been cancelled.
“Out of an abundance of caution and respect for the victims, we are canceling our event later today,” Weiss said.
The Monterey Park massacre marks at least the 33rd mass shooting in the United States so far this month, according to the Archives of Gun Violence. Both the nonprofit and CNN define a mass shooting as four or more people shot dead, excluding the shooter.
“California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but look at what we just had today,” Luna said Sunday. “I can tell you that the status quo is not working. So we need to re-examine what we are doing and what could be better. I hope this tragedy doesn’t appear in the long list of other tragedies we even have Won’t talk about it until the next tragedy strikes.”
The man suspected of starting the fire at the Star Ballroom was a regular at the venue, both his ex-wife and a longtime acquaintance told CNN.
Tran’s ex-wife, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, said she met Tran about two decades ago at the Star Ballroom, a popular community gathering place where he taught informal classes. She said Tran saw her at a dance, introduced himself and offered her free lessons. The two married soon after, she said.
While Tran was never violent towards her, she said he could get angry quickly. For example, she said he would be upset if she missed the tap dance because he thought it made him look bad. Tran filed for divorce in late 2005, and a judge granted the divorce the following year, Los Angeles court records show.
It’s unclear how often, if ever, Tran has been to the ballroom in recent years.
Another longtime acquaintance of Tran’s also remembers his regular presence at the dance studio. The friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity when he was close to Tran in the late 2000s and early 2010s, said Tran made the roughly five-minute drive from his home in San Gabriel to the Star Ballroom Dance Studio nearly every night. ”
Tran used to complain that the ballroom coaches didn’t like him and said “bad things about him,” the friend recalled, adding that Tran was “very hostile to a lot of people there.”
In 2013, Tran sold the San Gabriel home he had owned for more than 20 years, property records show.
The friend said he hadn’t seen Tran in years and was “absolutely shocked” when he heard about the shooting.
“I know a lot of people, and if they go to Star Studios, they go there a lot,” he said, adding that he was “worried that I might know some” of the shooting victims.