Huu Can Tran, 72, was found dead on Sunday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a van in Torrance, California, officials said. A handgun and other pieces of evidence were also recovered from the scene, they said.
On Sunday morning, officers in Torrance, California, spotted the white van, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.
“When officers exited their patrol vehicle to contact the occupant, they heard one gunshot coming from within the van,” Luna said. “Officers retreated and requested several tactical teams to respond.” A SWAT team then approached the vehicle and officers found Tran dead inside, he said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office previously said that no other suspects were involved. No possible motive has been established, and it’s not clear if Tran knew the victims or was firing indiscriminately.
Luna identified Tran as the lone suspect in the mass shooting. Police released photos Sunday of the suspected shooter, described as an Asian male who is armed and dangerous.
“We still are not clear on the motive,” Luna told reporters Sunday. “We want to know how something this awful can happen.”
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese told reporters that on Saturday night, when officers arrived at the Star Ballroom, “it was chaos.” He added, “There were wounded people, there were people trying to flee out all the doors.”
Police entered the building to search for a suspect within several minutes of arriving on the scene, he added. When “inside, they came across a scene that none of them had been prepared for,” the chief said.
Some 20 minutes after the shooting, officials said, Tran allegedly walked into the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra and likely was planning another mass shooting.
“The suspect walked in there, probably with the intent to kill more people, and two brave community members decided they were going to jump into action and disarm him” Luna told reporters. After that, he fled the scene, leading to a police manhunt that lasted until Sunday.
Chester Chong, the head of the Chinese Chamber Commerce of Los Angeles, told the New York Post that he heard that the mass shooting was related to domestic violence.
A woman holds her arms up in prayer as members of the community hold a prayer vigil near the scene of a shooting that took place during a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration, in Monterey Park, Calif., on Jan. 22, 2023. (Allison Dinner/Reuters)
“I was told the wife was invited to the Lunar New Year Party and the husband was not,” Chong told the paper on Sunday.
Other authorities have shared little information about Tran. Public records show Tran once had addresses in Monterey Park and neighboring cities,
“We do understand that he may have had a history of visiting this dance hall and perhaps the motivation has to do with some personal relationships, but that’s something that I think investigators are still uncovering and investigating and we’ll probably find out more in the hours ahead or even days ahead,” said Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) told reporters she still has questions about the attack but hopes residents now feel safe.
“The community was in fear thinking that they should not go to any events because there was an active shooter,” Chu said Sunday. “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?”
The suspect was carrying what Luna described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where Tran died. Unconfirmed reports indicated that he used a Cobray M11 9mm semi-automatic weapon, a variant of the MAC-11 machine pistol.
A woman claiming to be Tran’s ex-wife, who requested not to be named, told CNN that she met him at the Star Ballroom about two decades ago, where he used to give informal lessons. The two married soon after he gave her lessons, she said.
She told the network that Tran was an immigrant from China, and showed a copy of his marriage license to CNN.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Jack Phillips