Monterey Park shooting: 10 killed at Lunar New Year celebration, suspect dead from apparent
The suspect in a shooting in Monterey Park, California, that left 10 dead and another 10 wounded is dead, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Sunday. The suspect, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Luna said.
The massacre was the nation’s fifth mass killing this month. It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were.
Luna said earlier Sunday that law enforcement was dealing with a “barricaded suspect situation” in the city of Torrance. Officers pulled over a white van at 10:20 a.m. local time Sunday, Luna said. The van then pulled into a shopping center parking lot and police heard a single gunshot from inside the vehicle, according to Luna. Officers wearing tactical gear and armor, approached the van at 12:52 p.m. and found the suspect dead.
A handgun was recovered from inside the van, Luna said.
The dramatic scene involving the van was captured by news helicopters, with multiple armored vehicles positioned in front of, to the side of and behind the van, with officers in fatigues and body armor at the rear of one of the police vehicles.
Police said there are no other suspects and they’re still not clear on a motive.
Luna said five men and five women were killed and another 10 wounded in the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park late Saturday night. Then, 20 to 30 minutes later, the suspect entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra.
“He walked in there with a firearm and some individuals wrestled the firearm away from him, and that individual took off,” Luna said earlier Sunday.
Luna said a magazine-fed semi automatic assault pistol with extended large capacity magazine was recovered from the Alhambra location. He said he believes that type of weapon isn’t legal in California, but that more “research” was needed.
Two law enforcement sources told CBS News that investigators were conducting ballistic analysis of the weapon found at the scene in Alhambra to try to determine if the weapon is connected to the Monterey Park shooting and whether the person was the same suspect.
Shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, officers arrived on the scene of the Monterey Park shooting in response to a call of shots fired and found 10 people wounded outside the Star Dance Studio. They were taken to local hospitals, where seven of them remained as of Sunday night, Luna said. The victims all appeared to be at least 50 years old, Luna said Sunday night.
Luna said Sunday afternoon that a victim center had been set up and urged anyone to go who suspected a family member had been at the dance hall.
Federal agents from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene assisting local police, and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden had been updated on the shooting.
“Jill and I are thinking of those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Par,” Mr. Biden said in a statement Sunday night. “While there is still much we don’t know about the motive in this senseless attack, we do know that many families are grieving tonight, or praying that their loved one will recover from their wounds.”
Mr. Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Instagram that he visited Monterey Park Sunday.
“The strength of this community is incredible. No other country in the world is terrorized by this constant stream of gun violence. We need real gun reform at a national level,” Newsom said.
According to CNN, Tran’s ex-wife said she met Tran about 20 years ago at the Star Ballroom and that “while Tran was never violent to her … he could be quick to anger.” CNN also reported that ” a second long-time acquaintance of Tran’s also remembered him as a frequent presence at the dance studio.”
Local resident Wong Wei told the Los Angeles Times his friend had been at the dance studio, and she had been in the bathroom when the shooting erupted. When she emerged from the bathroom, she saw a gunman and three bodies — two women and one person who he said was the boss of the studio.
The friend then fled to his home at around 11 p.m., Wei said, adding that his friends told him that the shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately with a long gun. “They don’t know why, so they run,” he told the newspaper.
Peter Fong, a friend of “Mr. Ma,” one of the instructors at the dance studio, told CBS News that “Mr. Ma” was one of the people killed in the shooting. None of the victims had been officially identified as of Sunday night.
One neighbor of the Monterey Park studiothe gunshots sounded like fireworks, but due to the celebrations in the area, he did not think much of it at the time.
Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people that sits at the eastern edge of Los Angeles. The majority of its residents are Asian immigrants or their descendants, most of them Chinese. The dance studio in downtown Monterey Park is just a few blocks from city hall on its main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls that are full of small businesses whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened in the city.
The festival in Monterey Park was canceled for Sunday, officials said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for “the many individuals who are now suffering from this senseless violence.”
Pat Milton contributed reporting.