Monterey Park – Authorities were seeking a motive for the shooter who killed 10 people at a Los Angeles area ballroom dance club during Lunar New Year celebrations. The killings shocked Asian American communities in the region and marred celebrations across the country.
The suspect, Huu Can Tran, 72, was found Sunday, fatally shot by himself in a van authorities say fled in when people stopped him from committing another shooting Saturday night. The New York Times reported that a member of the family that runs the place seized the gun from the gunman.
The massacre was the fifth mass murder this month in the United States and hit one of California’s biggest celebrations of a date marked in many Asian cultures. The event once again injured a community that has been the target of violence in recent years.RELATED
It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
There were no other suspects on the run, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. At a late-night press conference, he indicated that the motive for the attack remained unknown. In addition to the dead, there are 10 wounded, seven of them still hospitalized.
Although Luna indicated in his press conference on Sunday night that he did not have the exact age of the victims, he noted that all of the deceased appeared to be in their 50s.
The suspect was carrying what the police chief described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine. A second gun was found in the van in which Tran’s body was found.
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said late Sunday that officers arrived at the scene less than three minutes after receiving the report. There they found a huge massacre and people trying to escape through all the doors.
“When they got to the parking lot it was a mess,” Wiese said.
About 20 to 30 minutes after the first attack, the assailant entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in the nearby city of Alhambra. But two people there managed to disarm him and the man escaped, Luna said.
The New York Times indicated that after entering the club, the assailant pointed his gun at Brandon Tsay, who works a few days a week at the place his grandparents opened. Tsay said he acted on instinct and reached for the gun when he got the feeling the man wanted to hurt people. The two struggled before Tsay managed to get hold of the gun, he said.
Although police said more than one person was involved, Tsay and his family said security footage showed the 26-year-old computer programmer prevented another tragedy on his own.
The suspect then fled in a white van, according to witnesses.
The vehicle was found in Torrance, another town with many Asian Americans, about 22 miles (34.5 kilometers) from that second location.
After surrounding the vehicle for hours, security agents approached and agreed. The body of a person appeared to have collapsed on the handlebars and was later removed. Members of a raid team checked the contents of the van before leaving.
At the same news conference, Congresswoman Judy Chu said she still had questions about the attack, but hoped residents would feel safe now.
“The community was scared thinking that they shouldn’t go to any event because there was a gunman,” Chu said. “They are no longer in danger.”
“What was the motive of this man who shot?” he asked. “Did he have a mental illness? He had he committed domestic violence? How did he get these weapons, and did he go through legal means or not?”
Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles and made up mostly of first-generation Asian immigrants from China or Asian Americans. The shooting occurred in the center, where red lanterns decorated the streets for the Lunar New Year festivities. A police vehicle was parked near a large banner proclaiming “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”
The celebration at Monterey Park is one of the largest in California. Two days of festivities were planned, which have been attended by up to 100,000 people in previous years. But authorities canceled Sunday’s events after the shooting.