The mass shooting in Monterey Park on Saturday that left at least 10 dead and as many as a dozen others wounded was likely an act of domestic violence committed by a 72-year-old man who was “looking for his wife,” at two separate dance halls where Lunar New Year festivities were underway, a law enforcement source tells LAMag.
The bloodshed began Saturday night at 10:20 p.m. when Huu Can Tran burst into Star Dance Studio and opened fire with an automatic pistol, killing 10 and wounding 10 others. The victims were “not in their twenties of thirties,” Luna told reporters Sunday evening at a press conference outside Monterey Park City Hall, but no updates were provided on the slain or wounded.
After an overnight manhunt, Tran took his own life in a Torrance parking lot as police closed in on a white cargo van witnesses described to investigators in the aftermath of the carnage and a second attempted attack in Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra was related to the incident at Monterey Park. In that second incident the LASD told reporters a man entered the Alhambra dance hall with a weapon, which was wrestled away by someone inside the venue, about 20 minutes after the Monterey Park killings.
Luna confirmed the incidents were related Sunday evening, but declined to discuss a motive other than to say that Tran’s criminal history, and possible retraining orders, were part of his department’s homicide investigation. Two law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the mass shooting told LaMag the gruesome scene was provoked, at least in part, by a domestic incident.
“There is increasing evidence this was domestic violence,” the source said on Sunday.
The mass shooting has upended a quiet suburban enclave located several miles east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley that is home to a sprawling Chinese-American community.
Luna told reporters that the victims included five women and five men. Initially, investigators said that they believed the killings could be a hate crime.
But Chester Chong, the chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles and a community leader in Monterey Park, also claimed that the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute between a husband and wife.
“This hate is because of wife and husband,” Chong told ABC7 News, adding that the suspect may have been jealous because he was not invited to the celebration that his spouse attended. “I believe because of that there was the killing of innocent people.”
The Mayor of Alhambra said she was devastated by the violence that marred the biggest holiday of the year and applauded the citizens who wrestled the gun away from the shooter.
“San Gabriel Valley residents are deeply invested in keeping one another safe. It doesn’t shock me at all that our community would see a shooter approaching and intervene. I’m grateful to those who risked their lives in an attempt to apprehend the gunman and remove his gun,” she wrote in a Twitter statement.
Lunar New Year festival, also known as the Chinese New Year, is one of the largest holiday events in the area, is a two-day celebration. Jan. 22 marked the start of the Year of the Rabbit. Celebrations slated for today, the first since the COVID-19 shutdowns, were canceled in several communities, including Monterey Park.
Claudia Kim came to West Garvey street with her three children, Michael, 8, and four-year-old twins Skylee & Tessa hoping to celebrate. Instead, the family with the little girls in matching traditional Chinese dresses, prayed for the victims and their community.
In the aftermath of the shooting, President Biden and Vice President Harris have both sent condolences to the victims’ families while promising to send Federal support to assist local law enforcement in the search for the killer.
Governor Gavin Newsom also announced his support for the victims in a Tweet.
“Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence,” he said.
In the wake of the tragedy, many celebrations of the Lunar New Year set for Sunday night have been canceled, while others with still take place, albeit with heightened security.
Canceled today are celebrations by the Monterey Park Lunar New Year Festival, the USC Pacific Asia Museum and the Citadel Outlets.
The Westminster’s annual Tet parade and the Rancho Cucamonga Lunar Festival, however, will still take place. A decision has yet to be announced regarding the popular Annual Golden Dragon Parade in LA’s Chinatown set for next weekend.
At 11:21 a.m., sheriff Luna released the first known images of the shooting suspect, in a special bulletin seeking help from the public in identifying him. The bulletin describes the suspect as a male Asian of dark complexion, and estimates he is 5 feet ten inches tall and weighs approximately 150 pounds.
On Saturday January 21, 2023 at 10:22 PM the suspect male/adult/Asian pictured above was involved in a shooting. Investigators have identified him as a Homicide suspect and he should be considered armed and dangerous.
Contact LASD Homicide with any information at 323-890-5000. pic.twitter.com/2gPUBBybvv
— Robert Luna (@LACoSheriff) January 22, 2023
More than 100,000 people were expected to turn out for the second day of the two-day celebration in Monterey Park. Instead tents were being dismantled and families were turned away.
The location of the van is in front of Tokyo Central, a Japanese grocery store near the southwest corner of Hawthorne and Sepulveda boulevards, in Torrance. Police officials confirmed to LA Magazine that shots were fired by the suspect, who is now dead.
At an early afternoon press conference in Monterey Park Luna appeared before a host of government officials including Supervisor Hilda Solis, D.A. George Gascón, and City of Monterey chief of police Scott Wiese Sheriff.
The sheriff added the weapon used in the massacre of people at the dance hall is “not a high-powered assault rifle,” Luna said, but declined to be more specific.
In response to a tip from a resident SWAT officers also surrounded and searched another “suspicious white van” parked a few blocks away. This one appeared to have been a false positive.
Police are taking extreme caution. The shooting prompted the city of Monterey Park to cancel the second day of the popular two-day Luna New Year Festival.
At approximately 1:57 p.m. the sheriff’s department announced that the search for the armed suspect has concluded and the area is now safe.