Suspected Gunman in Lunar New Year Mass Shooting Found Dead

A gunman opened fire following a night of Lunar New Year celebrations in the San Gabriel Valley community east of Los Angeles.

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What to Know

  • At least 10 people were killed and 10 others injured when a gunman opened fire Saturday night at a Monterey Park dance studio. 
  • Authorities say a second dance studio in Alhambra was also targeted, where at least one patron disarmed the suspect
  • The shooting happened after a night of Lunar New Year festivities in the community east of Los Angeles.

A gunman who killed 10 people and wounded 10 others Saturday night at a Los Angeles-area dance studio, following a night of Lunar New Year celebrations, was found dead on Sunday, law enforcement said.

The shooting set off a manhunt for the gunman in the fifth mass killing in the U.S. this month, later identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran.

Ten people died at the scene at Star Dance studio in the city of Monterey Park.

The other 10 victims who were wounded were taken to local hospitals, where some were in critical condition Sunday morning. The victims were identified only as five men and five women between the ages of 50 and 60, LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said it was still investigating the motive.

Authorities said a van matching witness descriptions of a vehicle seen leaving the crime scene Saturday night was pulled over Sunday morning by officers in a strip mall parking lot in Torrance.

SWAT officers in armored vehicles surrounded the van with the suspect inside.

Authorities later confirmed the man inside the van was Tran. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, law enforcement officials said.

When officers arrived at the dance studio Saturday at around 10:30 p.m., people were screaming as they poured out of the Monterey Park dance hall, Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said. Several victims were found in the parking lot.

Meyer said officers then went into the dance studio, which offers dance lessons and hosts events, and found multiple victims as firefighters treated the wounded.

It is too early in the investigation to know if the gunman knew anyone at the dance hall or whether it was a hate crime, Meyer said.

The area in the western San Gabriel Valley is home to one of the largest Asian American Pacific Islander populations in the United States.

The shooting happened about an hour after the ending of the first day of a two-day Lunar New Year festival that brought thousands of people to the area. Most of the crowds had already left before the shooting.

The celebration in Monterey Park, where tents were set up on the street for the event, is one of the largest Lunar New Year events in Southern California. Sunday's events were canceled.

Later Sunday morning, investigators released what appeared to be security camera images of the man sought in connection with the shooting.

"We don’t know if this is specifically a hate crime defined by law, but who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?" Luna said.

Just a few miles away in Alhambra, authorities were investigating a second incident at another dance studio, attempting to determine if the two incidents were connected.

That scene was at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in the 100 block of South Garfield Avenue, about 2 miles north of the Monterey Park location.

Authorities said people at the Alhambra location disarmed a gunman, who then fled the scene.

“I can tell you the suspect walked in there probably with the intent to kill but two community members took action and disarmed him,” Luna said. 

Authorities surrounded a van at a Torrance strip mall.

The weapon was later described as a semi-automatic weapon. It was recovered at the second dance studio.

Witnesses said a white cargo van was seen leaving the Alhambra location. A van matching that description was pulled over in a traffic stop in a strip mall near the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, but authorities did not confirm it was the same van sought in connection with the shooting.

SWAT officers eventually smashed a window of the van and opened its doors. Luna said there was a person inside the van, and he was later confirmed to be dead.

A witness that was at a dance studio in Monterey Park during a mass shooting describes what the scene looked like when shots rang out. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News on Jan. 22, 2023.

The shooting was met by grief throughout Southern California and across the country.

"I am in a state of shock, heartbreak and devastation,'' Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renee Perez said on Twitter. "A mass shooting has occurred in our neighboring City of Monterey Park. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones. Our community stands ready to do whatever we can to support all those impacted.''

Numerous law enforcement agencies are working on the investigation. Families affected by the shooting were asked to go to the Langley Senior Center at 400 West Emerson Avenue.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's office said he was briefed on the situation.

"No one should have to fear going to a celebration with their community," Newsom's office said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the victims and all those impacted."

The White House said President Biden also was briefed on the shooting. 

"Jill and I are praying for those killed and injured in last night's deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park," Biden said.. "I'm monitoring this situation closely as it develops, and urge the community to follow guidance from local officials and law enforcement in the hours ahead.''

The shooting was the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County since a man killed 10 people, including himself, in Covina in 2008.

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.

Residents of Monterey Park, Calif., react to the mass shooting that left at least 10 people dead on Saturday night.

The tragedy marked not just the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year but also is 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. The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.

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.

Wong Wei, who lives nearby, told The Los Angeles Times that his friend was in a bathroom at the dance club that night 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 that the shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately with a long gun.

10 Killed at Lunar New Year Shooting in Monterey Park: Photos

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