On Monday, a woman in her 70s who was injured in Saturday’s shooting died at a local hospital, bringing the death toll to 11 victims.
Here’s what to know
- The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner identified three women and a man who were killed: My Nhan, 65; Lilan Li, 63; Xiujuan Yu, 57; Alvero Valentino, 68. The office said the rest of the first 10 people killed in the shooting were in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Nine others were wounded.
- The gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, had recently gone to the police near his home to make allegations against his family, including claims of fraud and poisoning, authorities said Monday.
- Tran showed up at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, Calif., after the Star Ballroom shooting, but Brandon Tsay, who helps run the business with his family, disarmed him and he fled. Tran was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, police said.
- Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Monday that authorities were investigating what could have driven the shooting, saying they were investigating rumors that it was fueled by some sort of jealousy or personal relationship, but had not confirmed anything. Motive remains unclear, he said.
- Tran was a regular at the two studios and dancing was his sole hobby, said a former roommate, adding that Tran was angry with others who attended and worked at the venues.
9:44 PM: Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about the Monterey Park shooting
Here’s what officials have (and haven’t) said about the mass shooting that happened over the weekend in Monterey Park, Calif.
What we know:
- As of Monday afternoon, 11 people have died as a result of the shooting.
- Officials have identified three women and a man who were killed: My Nhan, 65; Lilan Li, 63; Xiujuan Yu, 57; Alvero Valentino, 68. Many of the victims were above the age of 50. Nine others were wounded.
- The shooter — 72-year-old Huu Can Tran — showed up at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra after the Star Ballroom shooting, but Brandon Tsay disarmed him, prompting Tran to flee. Luna said 42 shell casings and a high-capacity magazine were found at the Star Ballroom shooting scene.
- Tran shot and killed himself as police approached his white cargo van on Sunday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.
- Investigators searched Tran’s double-wide mobile home in a 55+ community called Lakes at Hemet West. Authorities found a .308-caliber rifle and “hundreds of rounds” of ammunition, Luna said, adding that it appeared Tran was creating his own firearm suppressors.
- Neighbors described Tran as a loner who spent a lot of time tinkering with his cargo van. One neighbor said Tran would even shave by looking into the driver’s side mirror.
- Police found a 7.26-by-.25-caliber Norinco handgun in Tran’s van.
- Tran was arrested in 1990 for unlawful possession of a firearm, Luna said.
- The community is coming together with vigils and commemorations. Area leaders are providing support for survivors, families of the deceased and community members.
What we don’t know:
- Officials don’t know why Tran opened fire. Officials said they were investigating rumors that the shooting was connected to jealousy or a personal relationship but weren’t sure.
- Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese spoke to motive Monday: “We all want answers to questions that we may never have answers to. That’s kind of the enigma of this. I know that my individual officers would like to know why and other families want to know why. The why is a big part of this. The problem is, we may never know the why. And we have to work past that.” The investigation remains ongoing.
- It isn’t clear how Tran acquired each of his weapons. It isn’t known how Tran’s 1990 arrest of unlawful possession of a firearm affects the legality of his other weapons purchases. But the Norinco handgun was registered to Tran, Luna said.
- The condition of survivors still hospitalized wasn’t clear Monday.
- Luna said his investigators had not yet released pictures of the weapons used because that information remaining private helps them identify credible witnesses.
By: Ben Brasch
8:24 PM: Inside the Monterey Park massacre
MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — On Saturday night, thousands of people gathered in the nation’s first suburban Chinatown at a festival to welcome the Lunar New Year — the first such party in Monterey Park since the pandemic began three years ago. There was music and street food and carnival rides, and all along the avenue, people danced in the Year of the Rabbit.
An hour after the outdoor party wrapped up, the dancing continued for an older crowd inside Star Ballroom Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue, which had served for more than three decades as the sweetest spot in town, where people in their 50s, 60s and well into their retirement years came together to show off their moves, learn the basics and be with each other. A family, many of them called their crowd.
Then, at about 10:20 p.m., with dozens of people inside the hall and several twirling across the gleaming wooden floor, a man wearing a thick black coat and a heavy ski hat walked in, aimed a firearm and started shooting people.
By: Reis Thebault and Marc Fisher
7:54 PM: Police recover firearms, investigating if suspect acquired them legally
Authorities said they still do not know how the shooter obtained the weapons he used in his attack, and they said they are still investigating whether he acquired them legally.
In all, officers recovered at least three firearms that they linked to Huu Can Tran: a rifle they found when they raided his home; a handgun recovered from Tran’s cargo van, where he was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound; and a modified semiautomatic weapon that was wrested from his possession after he entered a second dance studio in nearby Alhambra.
At least one of those weapons — the handgun, a Norinco 7.62×25 — was registered to Tran, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Monday evening. Tran was arrested in 1990 and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, and Luna said it’s not yet clear how that charge affects the legality of his other weapons purchases.
One key question is when Tran bought the weapons, Luna said, and whether that would have run afoul of the state’s evolving gun laws at the time.
“California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. But then you look back historically over the last 10 and 15 years, there’s been modifications,” Luna said. “It’s part of the puzzle that we’re trying to put together.”
During the search of Tran’s residence, he said, officers also recovered hundreds of rounds of rifle and handgun ammunition, along with materials used to manufacture homemade firearm suppressors.
By: Reis Thebault
7:45 PM: Analysis from Herman Wong, General assignment editor focusing on breaking news and audience growth
A 73-year-old woman who was injured during the shooting in Monterey Park was discharged from the hospital, according to the LAC+USC Medical Center.
6:55 PM: Analysis from Meryl Kornfield, Reporter
A flurry of 911 calls about an active shooter began at 10:22 p.m. local time, lasting about 30 seconds, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said at a Monday afternoon briefing. Officers responded about three minutes later, running into the dance studio as attendees were fleeing. “Imagine people going out and my officers swimming upstream to get inside to stop the problem,” he said. Wiese said he arrived at the scene within 20 minutes and soon called the Los Angeles County Sheriff. Outside of the dance studio, officers discovered one of the victims had been shot in their car, likely before the rampage began.
6:39 PM: Analysis from Ben Brasch, General Assignment reporter
Sheriff Luna said the weapon wrestled away from Tran in Alhambra was a 9mm semiautomatic Mac 10 “assault weapon.”
Investigators also found a 7.26-by-.25-caliber Norinco brand handgun in Tran’s van. Tran was arrested in 1990 for unlawful possession of a firearm, Luna said.
6:28 PM: Analysis from Ben Brasch, General Assignment reporter
Sheriff Luna said investigators found 42 shell casings at the site of the shooting. They also found a large-capacity magazine, he said.
6:16 PM: Analysis from Meryl Kornfield, Reporter
Investigators seized a .308 caliber rifle, numerous electronic devices and a large amount of ammunition after serving a search warrant at the home of Huu Can Tran, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said at an afternoon briefing Monday. The findings led officials to believe Tran was “manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors.”
6:10 PM: Disarming of Monterey Park shooter is reminiscent of Club Q
Twenty minutes after Huu Can Tran, 72, opened fire at a dance studio in Monterey Park, he entered another venue about three miles away, the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, Calif., with a gun.
Brandon Tsay, whose family owns the business, wrestled Tran’s gun away from him, and Tsay has since been declared a hero by public officials and on social media.
“This individual did what many would never be able to do or imagine, but he saved so many more lives,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said at a news conference Monday.
Tsay is the latest in a long line of Americans who have fought gunmen during active shootings.
Most recently Richard Fierro and Thomas Jones, patrons at Club Q, a nightclub in Colorado, subdued an active shooter, probably preventing him from killing more people.
Fierro, a retired military officer, previously told The Washington Post that when he saw the gunman at the club he “ran across the bar, grabbed the guy from the back and pulled him down and pinned him against the stairs.” Fierro then began hitting the back of the gunman’s head.
“This person is a real hero,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told The Post.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, in the event of an active shooting, people should try to evacuate. If that is not possible, they should hide, and only as a last resort should they take action against the shooter.
However, unarmed and armed bystanders have been intervening in active shootings for years.
Some say that Americans feeling compelled to interrupt active shooters is a somber thought, because people shouldn’t have to feel that wrestling a gunman could be part of a night out.
“While I think what the man in Alhambra did is laudable, we shouldn’t have to rely on super heroes like him to come save the day,” said Kris Brown, president of the gun-control advocacy group Brady United. “The superheroes should be our elected officials.”
She said the fact that these people are needed to save us from mass killings is the canary in the coal mine.
The chances of an unarmed citizen making the “selfless and deeply personal choices to face the danger of an active shooter” and being successful are 13 percent, according to a 2014 FBI study that looked at 160 active shooter incidents.
In a study two years ago, the FBI said that in 2021 there was an increase in incidents in which citizen involvement affected the engagement. There were four incidents that ended because citizens confronting shooters.
By: Maham Javaid
6:05 PM: Neighbor says shooter kept to himself
Tran’s double-wide mobile home in Hemet, Calif. — about 80 miles southeast of Monterey Park — had a deserted look Monday.
Police had been there the night before, pounding on locks to open Tran’s shed, according to a neighbor, Ronald Smith.
Tran’s front rooms had no furniture, but Smith said Tran had never had any furniture the whole time he’d lived there. Tran purchased the property in 2020.
Tran kept to himself and was pretty much a loner, although he wasn’t unfriendly, Smith said. He spent a lot of time tinkering with his white van, cleaning it or working underneath it. He even shaved outside using the driver’s side mirror, Smith said.
Smith said he was shocked at the news, despite Tran’s eccentricities.
“You never know what’s hidden inside someone’s mind,” Smith said.
Tran lived in a large mobile home community called the Lakes at Hemet West. It’s for people 55 and older, and residents have access to a golf course and other amenities. Many of the mobile homes are well tended and tastefully decorated, but Tran’s was bare of any adornment.
By: Erica Werner
4:43 PM: Analysis from Ben Brasch, General Assignment reporter
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna will hold a conference with other officials about the shooting at 3 p.m. local time, the department announced.
4:35 PM: How to help those affected by the Monterey Park shooting
As news spread of the mass killing at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, a Los Angeles suburb, people in California and across the country wondered how to help the family members of the slain, the injured and the Asian American community in general.
Monterey Park and Alhambra have been home to Asian American Pacific Islanders and their cultures for generations.
The City of Monterey Park temporarily converted the Park Langley Center into a survivor resource center for those impacted by the mass killing. In a news release, the city said that a memorial honoring the victims and survivors has been established at the Monterey Park City Hall “for our community to mourn.”
In the days after the shooting that killed 10 people and injured 10 others, national nonprofits organized an online fundraiser, while other community members compiled lists of resources.
A team of nine nonprofit organizations, including the Asian American Foundation, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California, and Stop AAPI Hate, created an online fundraiser which will distribute funds to “the many individuals who are now suffering from this senseless violence.”
The GoFundMe page which mentions that the shooting spree “occurred just blocks away from a joyous New Year festival where thousands of people gathered,” had raised roughly $42,000 of its $500,000 goal by Monday afternoon.
Mental health support
Disaster Distress Helpline, a national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, was one of those who reminded people around the country that if they were feeling distressed about the Monterey Park shooting, they could call the helpline.
The helpline can connect with counselors in more than 100 languages and can be reached at 1-800-985-5990.
In their newsletter, Hate is a Virus, a nonprofit community, shared mental health resources over the weekend. The newsletter provided links to the Asian Mental Health Collective, as well as forms that can be used to request subsidized therapy.
Hate Is a Virus will be hosting a Community Grief Circle on Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. local time for AAPI folks.
By: Maham Javaid
4:33 PM: The death toll from Monterey Park shooting rises to 11
One of the 10 people injured in Saturday’s shooting has died at a hospital, bringing the death toll to 11.
The Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center was treating four of the 10 people who had been injured at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, spokesperson Connie Castro told The Washington Post.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we are saddened to share that one of the victims has succumbed to their extensive injuries,” said a statement issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services on behalf of the medical center.
One victim was “in serious condition. The remaining two patients are recovering.”
“Our medical teams are working around the clock to care for them, and we remain hopeful for their complete recoveries,” the statement said.
The medical center did not provide more information about the survivors, such as names, ages or genders.
Three additional people were being treated in area hospitals late Sunday. The conditions of those people were unclear Monday afternoon, and other hospitals did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment.
By: Maham Javaid and Marisa Iati
4:02 PM: Analysis from Meryl Kornfield, Reporter
Everyone wants to know why the shooter attacked the dance studio, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said at a briefing Monday afternoon.
“The why is a big part of this,” he said, adding that investigators are looking into the shooter. But, he added, some answers may never come. “The problem is we may never know the why.”
3:54 PM: Shooter recently made fraud, poisoning allegations against family, police say
The gunman who carried out the massacre in Monterey Park had recently gone to the police near his home to make allegations against his family, including claims of fraud and poisoning, authorities said Monday.
The visits to police, which were not long before the carnage in Monterey Park, add to a deepening portrait of Huu Can Tran, the 72-year-old gunman, as an aggrieved man carrying grudges against others. A former roommate also described him Monday as carrying “vendettas” against others.
The gunman had a residence in Hemet, Calif., at an address that is home to a community for people 55 and older, according to property records. The home is about 90 minutes east of the dance hall where police say Tran opened fire.
On Monday, the Hemet Police Department said Tran had visited its lobby twice this month to make his claims. The visits, on Jan. 7 and Jan. 9, involved allegations of “past fraud, theft and poisoning” involving family members “in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago,” the department said in a statement.
“Tran stated he would return to the station with documentation regarding his allegations but never returned,” the department said.
By: Mark Berman
3:54 PM: Analysis from Amy B Wang, National politics reporter
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) paid tribute to Monterey Park after a shooting marred “what should have been a weekend of joy.”
“The prevalence of guns in our country has made tragedies like this one too frequent,” he said on the Senate floor. “While the Senate passed bipartisan gun safety legislation last year … more should be done.”
3:18 PM: Analysis from Maham Javaid, Staff Writer, General Assignment Desk
A person who was being treated after the attack has died, according to a hospital. Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center took in four of the people injured during the shooting. Of the remaining victims, one is in serious condition and the other two are recovering, said Connie Castro, a medical center spokeswoman. She did not give identifying details.
3:09 PM: Analysis from Marisa Iati, Staff Writer
The city of Monterey Park plans to host a vigil for the shooting victims at City Hall on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. local time. The City Council also canceled a mayoral installation and council reorganization that had been planned for that evening.
3:02 PM: Gunman had ‘a lot of vendettas against people,’ former acquaintance says
Adam Hood said he met Huu Can Tran about two decades ago and lived with him for several years. He described Tran as distrustful and difficult to get along with, adding that he had few friends and “a lot of vendettas against people.”
Tran, 72, was a regular at Star Ballroom Dance Studio and Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, Hood said, and dancing was his sole hobby. Yet he was angry with others who attended and worked at the venues.
“The only place that he would go at night were Star Studio and the Lai Lai studio, these two places,” he said in a phone interview. “And he kept complaining to me that people there were not friendly with him.”
He added, “For years, he’s been not happy with people in both studios.”
Hood described an accumulation of grievances that plagued Tran — financial difficulties, a divorce from a wife he claimed conned him, his disgruntlement with the dance community.
“It’s not one day,” he said. “It’s not one year. It’s more than 10 years — or even longer. Maybe 20 years.”
His own relationship with Tran ended nearly a decade ago in an Alhambra courthouse. Tran refused to give back a $750 security deposit Hood paid to live at his property, Hood said, so he filed a lawsuit in small claims court.
“He did cut a check right after the court,” he said. “And then we never saw each other.”
When he learned that Tran was the suspected shooter at the two dance studios, Hood said, he was both surprised and unsurprised.
“It’s a surprise because it’s hard to believe that someone would commit such a horrible, horrible murder, massacre. It’s big news — never happened in our community, number one,” he said. “Number two, it’s not a surprise to me because if I knew this guy well, I knew someday sooner or later he could do something crazy.”
Although he has not been in touch with Tran for years, Hood said he believed his old acquaintance might have been motivated by hatred, unhappiness and desperation.
“He wants to finish his life, end his life in this hard way, and to try to get some people to go down with him,” he said, describing what he believed led to Tran’s actions.
By: Brittany Shammas
2:20 PM: ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ Monterey Park mayor recalls thinking
Like so many in Monterey Park, Mayor Henry Lo spent Saturday at the city’s Lunar New Year Festival, where thousands crowded downtown streets, swelling his community’s population with revelers young and old.
The atmosphere was festive, with street food, carnival rides and a hope that the new year could bring relief after the coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to cancel the last two celebrations.
But just a few hours later, after a gunman’s rampage through the city’s Star Ballroom Dance Studio, that sense of joy was shattered. About 11:30 p.m., Lo began receiving tweets from friends and residents, alerting him of reports that a shooting had occurred inside the studio. At first, he didn’t know what to think.
“My mind was: I can’t believe this is happening — is it happening? Is it a joke, a prank?” Lo recounted in an interview. “You read about other communities, but you don’t think it would happen to your community.”
Lo spent the next few, desperate hours checking on his friends and family. He drove by the scene, which is just a few blocks from city hall, but didn’t duck under the police tape, not wanting to disturb the authorities’ response.
He called Monterey Park’s city manager, Ron Bow, who had been in touch with law enforcement. The worst thing imaginable had happened, Bow told him.
Since then, Lo hasn’t slept much. On Monday, he woke at 3 a.m. to field a deluge of calls from international media, fellow politicians and family members. To his city’s residents, he has repeatedly said: Monterey Park is still your haven.
“I think it’s understandable if the safety feels tarnished for some,” Lo said. “But I want to reiterate that this is a safe community; we have dedicated police officers.”
Lo has since been to the scene of the shootings several times, but he has not wanted to enter the building.
By: Reis Thebault
1:45 PM: ‘The entire investigation is being led by LASD,’ Hemet police say
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is taking the lead on the investigation of the Monterey Park mass killing.
The region has several other police departments, including in Monterey Park, the city where the gunman fatally shot 10 people; Alhambra, the city where a man disarmed the shooter; and Hemet, where the shooter once lived.
“The entire investigation is being led by LASD,” said Alan Reyes, the spokesperson from Hemet police department. “They have the resources they need, and we are playing no role in this investigation.”
A spokesperson from the Monterey Park Police Department also confirmed that they were not partaking in the investigation.
The FBI responded to the mass killing Saturday night but they are not playing a large role in the investigation surrounding the shooter.
“Since the case has a deceased subject, there is almost no potential for a federal prosecution,” FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said. “The FBI is not fully out of the case, but it’s being led by the [Los Angeles County] sheriff’s department which is a big and well-resourced team.”
The FBI is still providing victim specialists and possibly checking out leads in other states, she said.
By: Maham Javaid
1:10 PM: Photos: Flowers, candles, oranges, left in honor of Monterey Park victims
Memorials were scattered around the area outside Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Monday. The venue said on Facebook that it would be closed until further notice, but it thanked its supporters “for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time.”
“What should have been a festive night to welcome the first day of the Lunar New Year turned into a tragedy,” the statement said. “Our heart goes out to all the victims, survivors, and their families.”
Tributes at the scene Monday included flowers, candles and oranges — the latter of which are shared as gifts for the Lunar New Year.
By: Nick Parker
12:36 PM: Tran was the oldest to commit a public mass shooting in the U.S., group says
The 72-year-old gunman is the oldest person accused of carrying out a mass shooting at a public venue in U.S. history, according to researchers who track assailant demographics.
When Huu Can Tran stormed the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park, fatally shooting five men and five women at a Lunar New Year celebration, he became the second septuagenarian in about four decades to carry out such a massacre.
The Violence Project, a nonprofit organization that studies firearm-related bloodshed, collects data on the characteristics of attackers who kill at least four people in shootings that last no more than a day in public spaces. The Washington Post defines a mass killing as an event in which four or more people, not including the shooter, have been killed by gunfire. It does not consider other factors such as location or motive.
Tran stands out: The median age is 32.
“His age is definitely an outlier,” said James Densley, a criminal justice professor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn., who co-founded the Violence Project.
By that organization’s definition, previously the oldest person to stage such a public massacre was William Bevins, who at age 70 killed five men with an automatic rifle in a Kentucky auto parts store in 1981.
Ninety-eight percent of mass shooters in the database are men, and 52 percent are White. Tran is of Asian descent, authorities said, a demographic that constitutes about 6 percent of assailants.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Tran’s motive remains unclear. Star Ballroom Dance Studio was known to be a social sanctuary for older people.
By: Danielle Paquette
12:14 PM: First two victims identified
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner identified two women — My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 63 — as among the victims Monday.
Nhan’s family said she was “our biggest cheerleader” and was known for her smile and kindness. She had gone to Star Ballroom Dance Studio on the weekends for years.
“It’s what she loved to do,” the family said in a statement. “But unfairly, Saturday was her last dance. We are starting the Lunar New Year broken.”
The coroner’s office said the other people killed were three women and five men in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
Seven wounded victims remained hospitalized late Sunday. Their conditions were unclear Monday morning.
By: Brittany Shammas and Marisa Iati
11:33 AM: Federal buildings fly flags at half-staff to honor victims
Flags were at half-staff Monday after President Biden ordered the move at federal sites through sunset Thursday.
According to a news release, the White House issued the order Sunday “as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on January 21, 2023, in Monterey Park, California.”
By: Nick Parker
11:01 AM: Gunman was looking for ‘people to harm,’ says man who disarmed him at second location
Brandon Tsay, who helps run the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio with his family in Alhambra, Calif., is being regarded as a hero after he disarmed a gunman who had entered his family business Saturday night.
The Lunar New Year celebration at his family’s ballroom was coming to a close when Tsay heard the front door shut behind him, he told ABC News in a video interview Monday.
Tsay turned to see an Asian man wielding a gun and looking around the room, he said. “It seemed like he was looking for targets, people to harm,” Tsay said.
When the gunman began prepping his weapon, Tsay said, he realized that he needed to disarm him; otherwise, “everybody would have died.”
The two men can be seen struggling in the lobby of the ballroom in images from the surveillance footage released by Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio to ABC News.
Tsay said that he has bruises all over his body and that he was hit across the face and in the back of his head. During the interview, there is a visible bruise across his nose.
Once Tsay was able to use his elbows for leverage to pry the gun away from the shooter and push him away, he thought the man would leave, he said. But the man just stood there.
“I really thought I would have to shoot him, and he came at me. This is when he turned around and walked out the door, jogged back to his van. I immediately called police with the gun still in my hand,” Tsay said.
It was only later that Tsay found out that the man he fought had reportedly killed 10 people at another dance studio in Monterey Park, 20 minutes previously.
Tsay said he was in disbelief over what happened. Many people have been telling him how courageous he is, he said.
“In crises like this, the people need courage, especially the victims, their friends, their families,” he said.
By: Maham Javaid
10:32 AM: Lunar New Year parties tinged with fear after Monterey Park shooting
Passion Julinsey joined the throngs watching a Lunar New Year parade of paper dragons and drums snaking through D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood Sunday afternoon, even though her mother warned her to stay home.
The mass killing of 10 people after a Lunar New Year event in Monterey Park, Calif., a majority-Asian American suburb of Los Angeles, cast a dark cloud over what was supposed to be one of the most festive weekends of the year.
Despite her mother’s fears of another attack, Julinsey, a 49-year-old Thai American, showed up to the festival, believing that celebrating an important Asian holiday is an act of solidarity.
“I had to be discreet,” she said. “I am out here, maintaining distance from the stage. But you can’t stop living. It’s a festive occasion. You can’t live in fear.”
Asian Americans across the United States woke up to the horrific news out of California for the first day of Lunar New Year, reviving fears about hate crimes and reigniting questions about whether to venture into the public. The mass killing had ripple effects for celebrations across the country, with several events in Southern California canceled and police increasing patrols and other security measures in D.C., New York City, Houston, San Francisco and other cities with large Asian American communities.
By: Fenit Nirappil, Nick Anderson and Maham Javaid
10:06 AM: What we know about the gunman
Law enforcement officials have identified the gunman who they think killed 10 people at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Saturday night as Huu Can Tran. Police said Tran fatally shot himself after a manhunt.
Here is what we know about him:
- Tran was a 72-year-old man of Asian descent, according to police. He immigrated to the United States from China, according to CNN, which interviewed Tran’s ex-wife and saw a copy of their marriage license. Tran went through a divorce with no children involved in 2005 and 2006, court records show.
- Tran and his ex-wife met about 20 years ago at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, the site of Saturday’s shooting, she told CNN. She said Tran used to give lessons there, though he also worked as a truck driver.
- Tran lived in a gated retirement community in the San Jacinto Valley called the Lakes at Hemet West, more than 80 miles east of downtown Monterey Park, according to CNN and the Los Angeles Times.
- Police do not know what Tran’s motive may have been but plan to search his home in Hemet and investigate his background. Tran was the only suspect in the case, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.
By: Annabelle Timsit and Marisa Iati
9:35 AM: Prominent Asian Americans speak out on shooting
In the wake of the Monterey Park shooting, several Asian American public figures took to social media to speak out on a tragedy that has rattled spirits amid Lunar New Year celebrations.
“We begin the New Year with great sadness,” Min Jin Lee, a Korean American author best known for her novel “Pachinko,” tweeted on Sunday night. She addressed revelations that the shooting suspect — who died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds — was an Asian male, stating that intra-racial violence “is still violence.”
“It would harm the victims if we buried this story because we were ‘ashamed’ that the gunman was an Asian or Asian American man,” Lee tweeted. She added: “Asians and Asian Americans have been nothing short of terrorized during the pandemic (as well as throughout American history), and adding mass shooting(s) perpetrated by members of our own community only compounds our loss of safety and our precarious sense of security.”
Comedian Jenny Yang condemned the gunman on Twitter, stating that he attacked “our joy on one of the most celebratory holidays of our community.”
“An attack on Monterey Park is like attacking the HQ of my community,” she said. “It’s been the hub of culture and life for so many Taiwanese/Chinese immigrants like me. I am sick to my stomach.”
On the night of the shooting, actor Simu Liu, star of the film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” tweeted that Monterey Park is the “home of Asian American families, parents, grandparents, siblings, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, all of whom were looking forward to celebrating the New Year this weekend.”
“I am shocked, saddened, angered and heartbroken for the families,” he added.
By: Kelly Kasulis Cho
9:03 AM: Monterey Park is inclusive. That wasn’t always the case, locals say.
Monterey Park once made history as the nation’s first Asian-majority city. Years of determined emigration from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China contributed to a thriving Asian American cultural hub, sitting on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles. But Monterey Park’s Asian American community, which today makes up 65 percent of its population, has not always been made to feel at home.
After the city’s Asian population began to grow in the 1970s, there was a backlash. In 1985, residents circulated a petition to designate English as the city’s official language, according to a report that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. “Monterey Park is turning into another Chinatown,” said Frank Arcuri, a photographer who led the campaign, according to a 1985 report from the Associated Press. The city’s mayor at the time said residents were worried about the growing number of non-English signs.
The resolution, which passed, had an unintended consequence: politicizing the Asian community, which formed several groups and launched recall efforts against politicians who had supported it. Because of the resolution, “Racism is alive and well in Monterey Park, and it’s displayed every day,” one recall leader said in 1987.
Rep. Judy Chu, who now represents Monterey Park in Congress as a Democrat, was involved in the campaign to overturn the resolution. “Old-time residents scapegoated the new immigrants …” Chu recalled during her first congressional run in 2009. “The last straw was when they wanted only English to be spoken in the city and passed a resolution of that nature.”
Since the campaign, Monterey Park has welcomed speakers of many more languages. Today, signs can be seen in Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Myanmar over the city’s restaurants and storefronts.
“If there is one thing I know, it is that Monterey Park is resilient,” Chu said in a statement after Saturday’s massacre. “Our community is strong, and we will get through this terrible event together.”
Scott Wilson, Reis Thebault and Eileen Guo contributed to this report.
By: Bryan Pietsch and Leo Sands
8:24 AM: Star Ballroom was ‘so much more’ than a dance hall, instructor recalls
On any given Saturday night, a medley of people young and old — some seasoned dancers, others just beginners — would assemble at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park to sway their hips, thump their legs and move their arms to the rhythm of traditional Chinese music, tango or even hip-hop.
“Saturday was always a big night,” David DuVal, an instructor at the dance studio, told The Washington Post. “But this Saturday was the big one.”
It was the Lunar New Year, a date at the studio that normally would have seen beloved instructor “Mr. Ma” showing off his moves and seniors lining up to perform a square-dance routine, DuVal said. Instead, a joyous scene turned into carnage.
DuVal wasn’t at the studio when the shooting happened. He learned about it around midnight, when one of his students shared that what she had initially thought was firecrackers was actually the “boom-boom-boom of a gun,” DuVal recounted.
“This was so much more than a place where people danced,” DuVal said.
The dance studio, much like Monterey Park, represented a melting pot of cultures. Students hailed from Asia, Eastern Europe and the United States. Some found pieces of their home there, while others found their footing after immigrating to a new country.
“People who had recently migrated from China found help and support there. Some even came over and learned English or others picked up Cantonese or Mandarin,” DuVal said. “There were a lot of older people who are maybe lonely and this is their source of joy.”
DuVal said he suspects some of his students may have been among the victims, and he is reeling from the loss of a “really, really special place” and the people who made it so.
By: María Luisa Paúl
7:51 AM: Analysis from Annabelle Timsit, Breaking news reporter focusing on U.S. and global events
The City of Monterey Park has set up a “Survivors Resource Center” at the Langley Senior Center, which is located about four blocks north of the dance hall where the shooting took place on Saturday. The victims were in their 50s, 60s, 70s and possibly older, authorities said.
7:09 AM: Monterey Park is a ‘resilient,’ Asian-majority community, congresswoman says
Monterey Park, Calif., is known for being a “safe and quiet place to live,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D), whose district includes the city where she served three terms as mayor. “We think of it as the place to raise our children and to live high-quality lives.”
Monterey Park gained notoriety for being the first “Asian ethnoburb,” a suburban enclave that is majority-minority, with Asian Americans making up 65 percent of its population. But the shooting on the eve of Lunar New Year, an important holiday for many Asian cultures, shattered the idyllic calm in Monterey Park, a city of about 61,000 just east of downtown Los Angeles, according to census figures.
Violence is “very uncommon” in Monterey Park, especially on the scale of the shooting this weekend, Chu said in a phone interview Sunday. For the immigrants who sought a better life for themselves and their families, “I don’t think [they] could ever imagine that there would be such a proliferation of guns as they are here,” she said.
The shooting happened at one of the area’s dance halls, popular gathering places, especially for Chinese immigrants, Chu said.
“Our immigrants live a hard life. They work very hard at their business, they raise their families,” she said. Learning to dance “is a way for them to let off steam, have communication with friends, and dance with others.”
She added: “I can say from my 37 years living here that this is a resilient community, and it is a community that is stronger when it comes together.”
By: Bryan Pietsch
6:50 AM: Monterey Park shooting was the 5th mass killing of the year
The massacre in Monterey Park, Calif., is the fifth mass killing to take place this year in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Including the 10 people pronounced dead at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, 31 people had died as victims in mass killings in 2023 as of Saturday night, according to its database. The known ages of this year’s victims so far range from 4 to 78 years old.
By the equivalent date in 2022, Jan. 21, no mass killing had been recorded in the United States yet that year. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2022’s first mass killing took place on Jan. 23 in Milwaukee.
It means 2023 already far exceeds last year in both the number of mass killings to take place and the number of people killed in them.
The Washington Post defines a mass killing as an event in which four or more people, not including the shooter, have been killed by gunfire. This is a narrower category than a mass shooting, which the Gun Violence Archive defines as one in which four or more people are injured or killed, not including the shooter.
According to this broader definition, which includes injured victims, 2023 also surpasses the previous year. Monterey Park became the 33rd mass shooting to take place in the United States so far this year — suggesting there were, on average, more than one such shooting a day. Last year, the Gun Violence Archive recorded 25 mass shootings by the same date so far that year.
By: Leo Sands
6:41 AM: Once again, a shooting renews calls for gun reform
Politicians, activists and law enforcement officials are calling for changes to gun-control laws after the shooting in Monterey Park, in what has become an emblematic response to an ongoing spate of mass shootings in the United States.
“California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but yet, look at what we just had today,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said during a news conference Sunday evening. “Let’s look across our nation, see what works and what doesn’t. I can tell you this: The status quo is not working.”
Officials investigating the shooting recovered two weapons, a handgun and an assault pistol with an “extended large-capacity magazine attached to it,” Luna said. The pistol, he added, might not be “legal to have here in the state of California.”
After a visit to Monterey Park, California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Sunday that “no other country in the world is terrorized by this constant stream of gun violence.”
“We need real gun reform at a national level,” he said.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), who represents Monterey Park and previously served as its mayor, said she consistently has supported gun reform at a national level, but with the nation’s latest high-profile mass killing impacting her own community, “I feel even more strongly about pushing for these important gun safety bills.”
She added: “I feel the horror of every mass gun shooting. Every time. But this does bring it home to me.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the shooting the “latest horrible reminder that Congress must act boldly and now.”
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) called it “a horrific example of needless gun violence,” adding, “We’ll never quit demanding real action on gun safety.”
On Twitter, David Hogg, an outspoken gun-control activist who survived the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., said, “Our reaction to moments of crisis should never be inaction.”
“I can respect if you don’t agree with me, but I can’t accept there’s nothing we can do to reduce gun violence when we are the most powerful and wealthy nation in human history,” Hogg said. “Not doing anything is a choice.”
By: Kelly Kasulis Cho and Bryan Pietsch
5:49 AM: ‘Assault pistol’ recovered after mass killing could be illegal in Calif.
Officials have recovered two weapons throughout their investigation into the shooting, including a handgun and an assault pistol with an “extended large capacity magazine attached to it,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said during a news conference Sunday.
Luna said the handgun was found inside the white van that officials breached in Torrance, Calif. — where the shooting suspect, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was found slumped over the steering wheel after “sustain[ing] a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Luna said. Tran was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other weapon, which Luna described as “a magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol,” was recovered at Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, the second location Tran entered after killing 10 people at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. The pistol, Luna added, might not be “legal to have here in the state of California.”
“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 said, calling the people who intervened “heroes.”
“This could have been much worse,” he added.
By: María Luisa Paúl
5:29 AM: Timeline of police response to Monterey Park mass killing
Here’s how law enforcement officials responded to Saturday night’s mass killing at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Saturday, 10:22 p.m. local time: Monterey Park police officers begin receiving 911 calls from a dance hall on West Garvey Avenue and respond within three minutes. Emergency responders pronounce 10 people dead at the scene, which the shooter had fled.
Around 10:40 p.m.: The gunman enters Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, a neighboring city in L.A. County. Two patrons disarm the shooter, who flees the scene in a white van, according to witnesses. Police recover a semiautomatic pistol with a large-capacity magazine at the second dance hall.
Sunday, 10:20 a.m.: Police officers in Torrance, a coastal city about 25 miles southwest of Monterey Park, spot a white van that matches the description of the one belonging to the gunman. Officers pull up behind the vehicle and hear a single gunshot from inside it. The police moved back and requested several tactical teams. A pair of armored vehicles blocked in the van so it could not move.
Around 11 a.m.: The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department publicizes photographs of the gunman and warns the public to consider him armed and dangerous.
12:52 p.m.: SWAT officers approach the van and find that the gunman — later identified as Huu Can Tran, 72 — had shot and killed himself.
Erica Werner, Brittany Shammas, Meryl Kornfield, Joanna Slater, Daniel Wu and Ben Brasch contributed to this report.
By: Leo Sands
5:11 AM: ‘It’s going to take some days,’ sheriff says of investigation
Police believe the shooter who killed 10 people at a dance studio Saturday is dead, but they are still working to learn more about the gunman and a possible motive.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said investigators were looking into the criminal history and background of Huu Can Tran after police found “several pieces of evidence” inside the van where Tran was found that linked him to the mass killing. He said investigators were serving search warrants Sunday night, and authorities were interviewing witnesses at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park and Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra.
“We’re putting it all together and trying to figure it all out,” he said. “It’s going to take some days.”
By: Meryl Kornfield
4:50 AM: In photos: Memorial honors victims of the shooting
Community members in Monterey Park, Calif., gathered at City Hall on Sunday evening to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting at a dance hall that left 10 people dead.
“We stand united together as we mourn, and our thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends during this difficult time,” Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo said in a statement.
The shooting came on the eve of Lunar New Year, an important holiday in many Asian cultures. Monterey Park is a majority-Asian city. Lunar New Year festivities ended not long before the shooting began.
By: Bryan Pietsch
4:30 AM: Officers pulled up to the suspect’s van. He parked. Then, a gunshot.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna described during a news conference on Sunday evening how officers first made contact with the mass killing suspect, whom police identified as Huu Can Tran.
At 10:20 a.m. local time, Torrance Police Department officers spotted the white van matching the description put out by police as belonging to the shooter, Luna said.
As officers pulled behind the vehicle, he added, the white van entered the parking lot of a shopping plaza at Hawthorne and Sepulveda boulevards.
When officers got out of their vehicle to make contact with the driver, Luna said, they heard a single gunshot.
The police moved back and requested several tactical teams, he added. A pair of armored vehicles blocked in the van so it could not move.
At 12:52 p.m. local time, Luna said, SWAT officers approached the van and found that Tran had shot and killed himself.
By: Ben Brasch
4:23 AM: Bystanders who disarmed shooter ‘saved lives,’ sheriff says
Two bystanders who disarmed Huu Can Tran at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra were hailed as heroes by Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.
“They saved lives,” Luna said. “This could have been much worse.”
Tran went to the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio after killing 10 people at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. Earlier on Sunday, officials said a suspect walked into the dance studio and had his weapon wrestled away from him.
Luna identified the suspect as Tran on Sunday afternoon.
Police recovered a magazine-fed, semiautomatic “assault pistol” from the Alhambra ballroom, Luna said, separate from the handgun that was recovered from the van where Tran killed himself Sunday morning. Luna said he believed the weapon recovered in Alhambra was not legal to possess in California.
By: Daniel Wu
4:23 AM: California’s strict gun laws don’t eliminate violence, but they have helped
MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — California has a reputation as a tough place to buy a gun.
It’s home to mandatory waiting periods and background checks for firearm purchases. It bans military-style assault weapons, one of just eight states, plus D.C., with such a law. And in 2016, it became one of the first states to enact a red-flag law, which allows authorities to remove firearms from someone believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
But Saturday night’s horrific mass killing at a Monterey Park dance hall shows how the state’s strict gun laws are incapable of fully preventing gun violence in a country where gun ownership is widely considered a constitutionally protected right, firearms move freely between states with vastly different regulations and gun-control measures are dotted with exceptions.
Yet California’s problem with gun violence does remain significantly smaller than in most other states, which advocates credit to the rules that are on the books.
By: Scott Wilson and Todd C. Frankel
4:22 AM: Police hunt for answers after massacre at California dance studio
MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — Police said the man who killed 10 people at a dance studio in Monterey Park was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Sunday afternoon as officers closed in on his vehicle.
The massacre unfolded just as the Monterey Park community had begun to celebrate the arrival of the Lunar New Year. It sent a wave of fear through this predominantly Asian suburb of Los Angeles, turning a festive occasion into one marked by grief and shock.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the gunman as Huu Can Tran, a 72-year-old of Asian descent. He said the motive for the shooting — which he called “absolutely heartbreaking” and “heinous” — remained unclear.
The mass killing took place about 10:20 p.m. Saturday, police said, at a location on Garvey Avenue that is home to the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. Ten people were pronounced dead at the scene, Luna said. At least 10 others were taken to hospitals.
Authorities said the gunman then went to a second dance studio in neighboring Alhambra, where two patrons wrested a gun from him and no one was hurt. The community members who confronted the suspect were “heroes,” Luna said. “This could have been much worse.”
By: Erica Werner, Brittany Shammas, Meryl Kornfield and Joanna Slater