Monterey Park shooting: Suspect dead after 10 killed at California dance club, police say

Click to play video: 'Monterey Park shooting: Authorities say 72-year-old suspect dead from self-inflicted gunshot'
Monterey Park shooting: Authorities say 72-year-old suspect dead from self-inflicted gunshot
Authorities in California confirmed that the suspect in the mass shootings in Monterey Park has died from a self-inflicted gunshot after police found a white van in Torrance, Calif. Police have identified the suspect as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, and several pieces of evidence linking Tran to the shootings in Monterey Park were found inside the white van – Jan 22, 2023

The gunman who shot and killed 10 people and wounded at least 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club during a Lunar New Year celebration is dead, police have confirmed.

“I can confirm that there are no outstanding suspects from the mass shooting incident that occurred in the city of Monterey Park,” LA County Sheriff Robert G. Luna said Sunday.

Click to play video: 'Monteray Park shooting: Police trying to figure out motive in Lunar New Year mass shooting'
Monteray Park shooting: Police trying to figure out motive in Lunar New Year mass shooting

The suspect was found inside a white van linked to the incident with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Sunday during an update at the City of Monterey Park Civic Center.

“Investigators conducted a search of the vehicle and determined the male inside the van was the mass shooting suspect,” said Luna, noting several pieces of evidence were found in the van linking the suspect to the shooting.

A handgun was also discovered inside the van with the suspect.

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Law enforcement officials swarmed and entered the white van Sunday afternoon following the shooting. After police located the vehicle and pulled behind it, the white van entered a shopping centre parking lot, Luna said during the update.

As officers exited their patrol vehicle they heard one gunshot inside the van, Luna added.

After officers called for backup, two armored vehicles responded and were able to restrict the van’s movement, according to Luna.

Click to play video: 'Monterey Park shooting: Celebrations will be ‘tinged with sadness and support,’ Trudeau says'
Monterey Park shooting: Celebrations will be ‘tinged with sadness and support,’ Trudeau says

“At 12:52 p.m., our sheriff’s SWAT team approached and cleared the van and determined the suspect sustained a self-induced gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene,” said Luna.

Though the suspect is dead, the motive is still unknown and the investigation is ongoing, Luna said.

“We still are not clear on the motive. The investigation continues. We want to know how something this awful can happen.”

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Luna did not have the exact ages of the victims but said they all appeared to be over 50. Seven of the wounded people remained in the hospital, he said.

Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo thanked law enforcement for their efforts on Sunday during the update.
“We are able to say that justice has been done thanks to everyone working together,” he said.

“Violence has no place in our society. We will get over this.”

Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospital and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people, including five men and five women, who died did so at the spot in the city of Monterey Park where the shooting took place.

Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday after the shooting. He said officers then went into the ballroom and found victims as firefighters treated the wounded.

Meyer added it’s too early in the investigation to say if the gunman knew anyone at the ballroom or whether it was a hate crime.

“We will look at every angle,” Meyer said. The sentiment was echoed by Luna at Sunday’s press conference.

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Police are also investigating a similar incident at Lai Lai Ballroom in the nearby city of Alhambra that took place about 20 to 30 minutes after the Monterey Park shooting.

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The suspect was also linked by police to this incident, Luna said.

Click to play video: 'Monterey Park shooting: Police confirm 2 civilians disarmed suspect'
Monterey Park shooting: Police confirm 2 civilians disarmed suspect

“The suspect went to the Alhambra location after he conducted the shooting and he was disarmed by two community members who I consider to be heroes. They saved lives. This could’ve been much worse,” said Luna. “Gun violence needs to stop. There’s too much of it.”

“The weapon we recovered at that second scene I’m describing as a magazine-fed semi-automatic assault pistol,” said Luna, noting he does not believe this weapon to be legal in the state of California.

decorated the streets for the Lunar New Year festivities. A police car was parked near a large banner that proclaimed: “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”

“During the time of celebration, during Lunar New Year when families together, we know that our community has faced a tragic incident,” California State Assemble member Mike Fong said Sunday.

“This has been a very challenging time. Monterey Park is strong. Monterey Park is resilient and together we’ll get through these challenging times.”

Also speaking at the news conference, Congresswoman Judy Chu said she still has questions about the attack: “What was the motive for this shooter? Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic violence abuser? How did he get these guns and was it through legal means or not?”

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The Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park is one of California’s largest and attracted tens of thousands throughout the day. Most of the residents of Monterey Park, a city of about 60,000 people that sits at the eastern edge of Los Angeles, are Asian immigrants from China or first-generation Asian Americans.

Click to play video: '10 killed, at least 10 injured in California mass shooting after Lunar New Year fest'
10 killed, at least 10 injured in California mass shooting after Lunar New Year fest

Two days of festivities, which have been attended by as many as 100,000 people in past years, were planned. But officials canceled Sunday’s events following the shooting.

The tragedy marked the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year. It is also the deadliest since May 24, 2022, when 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S.

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The database also shows that 2022 was one of the worst years ever in terms of mass killings, with 42 such attacks, the second-highest number since the creation of the tracker in 2006. The database defines a mass killing as four people killed, not including the perpetrator.

The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.

The White House said that President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation by Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

“The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. He directed her to make sure that the FBI is providing full support to local authorities, and to update him regularly today as more details are known.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland was also briefed, said Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson.

The shooting occurred at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a few blocks from city hall on Monterey Park’s main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls full of small businesses, whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened regularly in the city.

The business offered dance lessons from Tango to Rumba to the Fox Trot, and rented its space for events. On Saturday, its website said it was hosting an event called “Star Night” from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

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Seung Won Choi, who owns the Clam House seafood barbecue restaurant, across the street from where the shooting happened, told The Los Angeles Times that three people rushed into his business and told him to lock the door.

The people said to Choi that there was a shooter with a gun who had multiple rounds of ammunition on him.

Click to play video: 'Monterey Park shooting: Chief talks police presence, security at Lunar New Year celebrations'
Monterey Park shooting: Chief talks police presence, security at Lunar New Year celebrations

Wong Wei, who lives nearby, told The Los Angeles Times that a friend was in a bathroom at the dance club when the shooting started. When she came out, he said, she saw a gunman and three bodies.

The friend then fled to Wei’s home at around 11 p.m., he said, adding that his friends told him the shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately with a long gun.

Condolences pour in

Meanwhile, condolences have poured in from prominent leaders for victims of the shooting and their families.

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his heart breaks for those impacted.

“My heart breaks for the people of Monterey Park, California–whose Lunar New Year celebrations were violently attacked and whose lives have been forever changed,” said Trudeau in a tweet.

American singer-songwriter Malynda Hale also expressed her devastation on Twitter and sent her love to the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

“People can’t even have holidays and cultural celebrations without fear of being targeted and gunned down,” said Hale.

U.S. Congressman Andy Kim said that he “hopes everyone can find comfort in the renewal of the new year.”

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— With files from The Associated Press 

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