10 killed, 10 injured in Monterey Park mass shooting; suspect killed self in van in Torrance

Authorities said five women and five men are among the deceased victims. They have not yet been identified.

ByCarlos Granda, Christiane Cordero, and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Monday, January 23, 2023
Search warrant served at Monterey Park shooting suspect's home
Law enforcement converged on the shooting suspect's mobile home in Hemet Sunday evening after a search warrant was served.

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- Ten people were killed and at least 10 others were wounded in a mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park, and an hours-long manhunt for the shooter ended with authorities finding the suspected gunman dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a van in Torrance Sunday.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the suspect as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran and said no other suspects were at large. He added that the motive for the attack remained unclear.

Earlier Sunday, law enforcement officials swarmed and entered a van linked to the suspect, after surrounding it for hours before going in. A person's body appeared to be slumped over the wheel and was later removed from the vehicle. At an evening news conference, Luna confirmed the body found was that of the suspected shooter.

Luna previously released photos of an Asian man who was believed to be the suspect.

Ten people were killed and at least 10 others were wounded in a mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park, and authorities found the suspected gunman dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

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.

"I still have questions in my mind, which is: 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?" Congresswoman Judy Chu said.

Luna added that the suspect was carrying what he described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, which the sheriff said he believed is illegal to have in California. A second handgun was discovered in the van where Tran was found dead.

WATCH: Monterey Park's 'youngest officers' among first to arrive on scene: 'They came across a scene that none of them had been prepared for'

Some of the Monterey Park's "youngest officers" who've only been out on the streets for a few months were among the first to arrive at the scene, according to Chief Scott Wiese. "Inside, they came across a scene that none of them had been prepared for."

Authorities said the shooting happened just after 10 p.m. Saturday. The suspect entered a ballroom dance facility, the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue, and opened fire. A Lunar New Year celebration was underway nearby, but the shooting did not happen at the festival, authorities said.

When law enforcement arrived, people were running out of the dance hall, officials said during a news conference.

"The first officers on scene were some of my youngest officers," Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said. "They had only been on the street for a short period of time."

Wiese said the officers arrived at a scene that "none of them had been prepared for," but didn't hesitate to go in.

About 17 minutes later, the suspect then entered the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra with a gun, and people wrestled the weapon away from him before he fled, Luna said. Investigators cleared that scene around 7 a.m. No injuries were reported at the location.

WATCH: Van linked to Monterey Park shooting suspect had stolen license plates, sources say

Sources tell ABC7 that the license plates on that van were stolen. L.A. County sheriff's picked up that license plate in Alhambra. Using that license plate information, the Torrance Police Department pulled the van over at around 9 a.m.

That individual then took off. A weapon involved in that incident was recovered.

During the search, a SWAT team surrounded a white cargo van believed to be connected to the shooting suspect. AIR7 HD was over the scene in Torrance at a parking lot near the Del Amo Fashion Center as police maneuvered two SWAT vehicles on either end of the van, butting up against it, while a large number of police vehicles stood by for support.

Luna said authorities were looking for a white van after witnesses reported seeing the suspect flee from Alhambra in such a vehicle.

Sources tell ABC7 that the license plates on that van were stolen. L.A. County sheriff's picked up that license plate in Alhambra. Using that license plate information, the Torrance Police Department pulled the van over at around 10:20 a.m.

Police heard a gunshot from inside the vehicle after the driver pulled into the parking lot. Police tactical units were then requested to the scene.

"So the sharing of information is what led Torrance Police Department to be able to do just good police work by actually spotting this van on their streets," said L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Law enforcement were seen converging on the suspect's mobile home in Hemet Sunday evening after serving a search warrant.

Tran lived there for about a year, according to neighbors. Pat Roth says he was a dance instructor, but didn't know much else about him. He says he lived alone.

"He didn't strike me as having an angry bone in his body, but that's just seeing him coming and going," Roth said. "So I don't know. It's a little unnerving."

The motive for the shooting is not yet known, and it was unclear if the suspect knew the victims.

However, as the investigation continues, a prominent member of the community with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce believes the suspect's possible motive may be related to a domestic dispute.

Community leader Chester Chong told ABC7 that the owner of the dance studio on West Garvey Avenue was holding an event there on Saturday. Through talking with friends that were in attendance and other local leaders, he said a woman was invited to the event but not her husband, which made him upset. Chong said he believes that woman's husband is the suspect in this case and jealousy may be a possible motive for the shooting.

Community leader Chester Chong told ABC7 that he believes jealousy may be a possible motive for the mass shooting that occurred Saturday night at a dance studio in Monterey Park.

The injured victims were rushed to area hospitals and were in various conditions from stable to critical.

Luna said the department usually doesn't disclose the names of hospitals where victims of violent crimes are being treated. But in this case, he said, a disturbing incident reinforces the decision to keep that information private.

"Somebody called one of those hospitals to say something along the lines of they want to go and finish the job," Luna said. "That is absolutely horrible."

"Please, these victims and survivors are dealing with so much. Let's not traumatize them more."

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

Luna said five women and five men are among the deceased victims.

Those victims have not been officially identified by authorities yet, but friends identified one of the people killed as dance instructor Ming Wei Ma. He was known for his patience and understanding.

Friends say he gave his life trying to save others.

"Mr. Ma, who is very beloved and respected in the dance community, and he's been doing that for over 20 years - he was trying to stop the shooter, and he passed away," friend Eric Chen said.

The FBI has responded to assist. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that President Biden was briefed on the shooting.

Monterey Park is a small community of approximately 61,000 people, and it's a predominantly Asian community. The city was hosting the Monterey Park Lunar New Year Festival this weekend, marking the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar. The annual two-day street festival is widely attended, with previous celebrations drawing as many as 100,000 daily visitors, according to the city. Saturday's events were scheduled to finish at 9 p.m.

The festival has been canceled for Sunday.

The tragedy marked not just the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year but also the deadliest since May 24, 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.

The database also shows that 2022 was also one of the nation's worst years 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.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call Crime Stoppers by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.