Monterey Park mass shooting: Suspect found dead

Key Points
  • The shooting occurred during a Lunar New Year celebration in the city of Monterey Park, near Los Angeles.
  • Law enforcement officials said the suspect, a 72-year-old man, killed himself when approached by police.
  • Monterey Park is home to one of the largest Asian American communities in the United States.
This article contains references to suicide/self-harm.
A 72-year-old man killed himself when approached by police on Sunday, about 12 hours after carrying out a Lunar New Year massacre at a dance club that left 10 people dead and another 10 wounded.
The man tried to carry out another shooting at a separate club just minutes after the first on Saturday night, but authorities said two bystanders wrestled the man’s weapon away from him before any shots could be fired. He fled that scene.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the suspect as Huu Can Tran, a septuagenarian he said used a high-capacity magazine pistol to shoot up a ballroom dance venue popular with older patrons in Monterey Park, about 11km east of downtown Los Angeles.
Investigators did not yet know a motive.

Mr Luna did not identify any of the victims but said the five men and five women appeared to be in their 50s, 60s and older.

Police officers stand outside a ballroom dance club in Monterey Park, California on Sunday where a mass shooting took place following a Lunar New Year celebration. Source: AAP / Jae C. Hong/AP

The sheriff said the pistol Tran used appeared to be illegal in California, where state laws ban any magazine holding more than 10 rounds.

“We want to know, we want to know how something this awful can happen,” Luna told reporters.
Police say Tran carried out the shooting in Monterey Park at about 10pm pacific time on Saturday (5pm AEDT on Sunday), and was confronted by bystanders at a second dance club in the neighbouring city of Alhambra about 20 minutes later.
“I can tell you that 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,” Mr Luna said.

The sheriff said Tran turned a handgun on himself on Sunday as police approached a white van he was driving in Torrance, about 34km from the site of the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park.

Police officer standing outside a dance hall where a shooting occurred.

The scene of the shooting in Monterey Park, California. Ten people were shot dead during a gathering celebrating Lunar New Year. Source: Getty / Eric Thayer

Officers reportedly heard a single gunshot from the van as they approached, then fell back and called for a SWAT team.

Of the 10 people injured, seven remained hospitalised on Sunday night, with at least one person in critical condition.

The shooting took place around the location of a two-day Lunar New Year celebration where many downtown streets are closed for festivities that draw thousands of people from across Southern California.

‘Close-knit community’

Chester Chong, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, described the city of about 60,000 people as a where everybody knows each other and helps each other.
The city has for decades been a destination for immigrants from China and around 65 per cent of its residents are Asian, according to US Census data.
“People were calling me last night, they were scared this was a hate crime,” Mr Chong said at the scene.
The Star Ballroom Dance Studio opened in 1990, and its website features many photographs of past Lunar New Year celebrations showing patrons smiling and dancing in party clothes in its large, brightly lit ballroom.

Most of its patrons are middle-aged or seniors, though children also attend youth dance classes, according to a teacher at the studio who asked to not be named.

Police vehicles on street in front of shooting location.

Police gather at the scene near the intersection of Garvey and Garfield Avenue in Monterey Park, California. Source: Getty / Frederic J Brown

“Those are normal working people,” the teacher said. “Some are retired and just looking for an exercise or social interaction.”

A flyer posted on the website advertised Saturday night’s new year party, running from 7:30pm to 12:30am on Sunday (2:30pm to 7:30pm AEDT on Monday)
The gunshots were mistaken by some for new year fireworks, according to Tiffany Chiu, who was celebrating at her parents’ home near the ballroom.
“A lot of older people live here, it’s usually really quiet,” she said.
“This is not something you expect here.”
President Joe Biden condemned the killings in a written statement and said he had directed his Homeland Security adviser to mobilise federal support to local authorities.
The attack in Monterey Park was the deadliest since May 2022, when a gunman killed .
The deadliest shooting in California history was in 1984 when a gunman killed 21 people at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, near San Diego.
Readers seeking crisis support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged up to 25). More information and support with mental health is available at and on 1300 22 4636.

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