A suspect in the California mass shooting is dead, the sheriff says

Updated January 22, 2023 at 10:30 PM ET

The gunman suspected of killing 10 people and wounding 10 others in a shooting Saturday night in Monterey Park, a town east of Los Angeles, is dead, officials said.

The shooting was reported around 10:22 p.m. local time at a Chinese-owned ballroom dance studio near a New Year celebration.

By late Sunday morning, police vehicles had gathered around a white van in Torrance, California, about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park. Police officers were seen breaking into the van in the afternoon and removing its contents.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna later confirmed this in a news conference Sunday night The suspect was found dead in the van with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police vehicles surrounded the van for over two hours before breaking into it.

Luna named the suspect Huu Can Tran, a 72-year-old Asian man. Investigators didn’t know a motive, Luna said. There are no outstanding suspects, the sheriff said.

None of the victims have been identified as officials work to notify family members. Five of the people killed were women and five men, Luna said, and they were older, “probably in their 50s, 60s and beyond.” At least 10 others who sustained injuries were taken to area hospitals in conditions ranging from stable to critical.

Police officers surround a white van.  Police said the suspect who was shooting could be inside.

Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

/

AFP via Getty Images

Police officers surround a white van in which the shooting suspect was found dead.

The police are investigating two incidents

Local police arrived at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park and found “people pouring out of the area,” LA County Sheriff’s Department Captain Andrew Meyer said in a news conference early Sunday morning.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said officers responded within three minutes of the first 911 call. The suspect was able to escape.

About 20 to 30 minutes later, Luna said, the same gunman entered a second ballroom at the nearby Alhambra with “intent to kill more people.” There, at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio, two people disarmed him from a “magazine-fed assault pistol.”

When asked if this type of gun was legal in California, the sheriff said he didn’t think it was.

After fleeing the scene in a white van, the suspect’s vehicle was discovered hours later by Torrance police officers. Sheriff Luna said the driver of the van pulled into a parking lot and officers got out of their vehicles and approached the van. They heard a single shot from inside the vehicle.

The officers retreated, demanding SWAT and tactical support. Two and a half hours later, authorities broke into the van and found the suspect dead.

Luna said there was multiple pieces of evidence in the van linking the suspect to both the Monterey Park and Alhambra crime scenes. The sheriff said he believes the van’s license plates were stolen. A small caliber pistol was also found in the van.

Police are gathering at the site of a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California over the weekend.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

/

AFP via Getty Images

Police are gathering at the site of a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California over the weekend.

Earlier in the day, the sheriff’s office published photos of the suspect, showing a man wearing a black leather jacket, glasses and a cap. He was described as being 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds.

Captain Meyer said it was unclear if the shooting was a targeted hate crime.

The FBI and state authorities are also involved in the investigation.

According to the Census Bureau, over 59,000 people live in Monterey Park, 65 percent of whom identify as Asian.

The deadly attack came at the end of the first day of a two-day street festival celebrating the Lunar New Year. The event, which began on the eve of Chinese New Year, is one of the largest free street fairs in Southern California and typically attracts over 100,000 attendees and over a hundred food vendors, performances and vendors.

Monterey Park Police said the second day of the festival was canceled because of the shooting. Still, Sheriff Luna said it was safe for people to attend New Year’s celebrations in the area after the shooting – which Luna says “has no relation to the Chinese New Year celebrations earlier in the day.”

Still, several major cities — including New York, Houston and San Francisco — said security would be tightened during the Lunar New Year celebrations as a precautionary measure.

President Biden was briefed on the shooting. “Jill and I are praying for the dead and injured in last night’s fatal mass shooting in Monterey Park.” he said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom called the incident “a horrible and heartless act of gun violence” and that he is closely monitoring the situation.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, the attack was at least the 33rd mass shooting in the country this year and the second in California in less than a week.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Source