A 72-year-old gunman killed himself when approached by police on Sunday, about 12 hours after he had carried out a Lunar New Year massacre at a dance club that left 10 people dead and another 10 wounded.
The gunman tried to carry out another shooting at a separate club just minutes after the first one 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 7 miles (11 km) east of downtown Los Angeles.
Investigators did not yet know a motive, although gun violence is frequent in the United States. Luna did not identify any of the victims but said the five men and five women appeared to be in their 50s, 60s and beyond. 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.
After police say Tran carried out the shooting in Monterey Park at about 10 p.m. PST Saturday (0600 GMT on Sunday), he was confronted by bystanders at a second dance club in the neighboring city of Alhambra about 20 minutes later, Luna said.
“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,” Luna said.
The sheriff said that Tran turned a handgun on himself on Sunday as police approached a white van he was driving in Torrance, about 20 miles (34 km) from the site of the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. Officers 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 hospitalized Sunday night, with at least one person in critical condition.
The shooting took place around the location of a two-day Chinese Lunar New Year celebration where many downtown streets are closed for festivities that draw thousands of people from across Southern California.
A CLOSE-KNIT COMMUNITY
Residents stood gazing at the many blocks sealed off with police tape on Sunday in Monterey Park. Chester Chong, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, described the city of about 60,000 people as a quiet, peaceful, beautiful place where everybody knows each other and helps each other.
The city has for decades been a destination for immigrants from China. Around 65% of its residents are Asian, according to U.S. Census data, and the city is known for its many Chinese restaurants and groceries.
“People were calling me last night, they were scared this was a hate crime,” 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.
“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 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
The gunshots were mistaken by some for new year fireworks, according to Tiffany Chiu, 30, 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 mobilize federal support to local authorities.
The attack in Monterey Park was the deadliest since May 2022, when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas. 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.
OTHER HIGH PROFILE MASS SHOOTINGS IN CALIFORNIA AND THE REST OF THE USA
COLORADO SPRINGS – Nov. 19-20, 2022 – In Colorado, a 22-year-old gunman opened fire at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring 18 others before he was stopped by “heroic” patrons at Club Q.
RALEIGH – Oct. 13, 2022 – In North Carolina, a 15-year-old shot and killed five people and was apprehended after a manhunt.
HIGHLAND PARK – July 4, 2022 – In Illinois, a man perched on a rooftop during a Fourth of July parade and killed seven people and wounded dozens more.
UVALDE, May 25, 2022 – A gunman opened fire at an elementary school in the South Texas town, killing 19 students and two teachers. Police from several agencies gathered outside the classroom waited more than an hour before a U.S. Border Patrol team entered the classroom and shot the suspect dead.
BUFFALO, May 14, 2022 – A white gunman killed 10 Black people inside a supermarket in a racially motivated attack in New York state. He was charged and remains in jail without bail.
NEW YORK CITY, April 12, 2022 – In one of the most violent attacks in the history of New York’s transit system, 23 people were wounded when a 62-year-old man activated a smoke bomb and opened fire in a subway. He was taken into custody the next day.
OXFORD, Nov. 30, 2021 – Four students were killed and seven other people were wounded after a teenager opened fire at a high school in Oxford, Michigan.
INDIANAPOLIS, April 16, 2021 – A former FedEx employee who had been under psychiatric care shot dead eight people and injured several others at an Indiana facility of the shipping company before taking his own life.
LOS ANGELES, March 31, 2021 – Four people were killed, one of them a child, in a shooting at an office building in suburban Los Angeles before the suspect was taken into custody.
BOULDER, March 22, 2021 – A mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado killed 10 people, including a police officer.
ATLANTA, March 16, 2021 – Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were shot dead in a string of attacks at day spas in and around Atlanta. A male suspect was arrested.
MILWAUKEE, Feb. 26, 2020 – A gunman opened fire at the Molson Coors Beverage Co brewing complex in Milwaukee, killing five co-workers before he committed suicide.
DAYTON, Aug. 4, 2019 – A gunman dressed in body armor opened fire in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people including his sister. Police killed the shooter.
EL PASO, Aug. 3, 2019 – A man fatally shot 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. A statement, believed to have been written by the suspect, called the attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Authorities arrested the shooter.
VIRGINIA BEACH, May 31, 2019 – A disgruntled public utility employee opened fire on co-workers at a municipal building in Virginia, killing 12 people before he was fatally shot by police.
AURORA, Feb. 15, 2019 – A man opened fire at an Illinois factory after being fired, killing five workers before he was slain by police.
THOUSAND OAKS, Nov. 7, 2018 – A former Marine combat veteran killed 12 people in a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. He then killed himself.
PITTSBURGH, Oct. 27, 2018 – A gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue near Pittsburgh and fired on congregants gathered for a Sabbath service, killing 11.
SANTA FE, May 18, 2018 – A 17-year-old student opened fire at his high school outside Houston, Texas, killing nine students and a teacher, before surrendering to officers.
PARKLAND, Feb. 14, 2018 – A former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and educators.
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Nov. 5, 2017 – A man thrown out of the U.S. Air Force for beating his wife and child shot 26 people fatally at a rural Texas church where his in-laws worshipped before killing himself.
LAS VEGAS, Oct. 1, 2017 – A gunman opened fire on a country music festival from a 32nd-floor hotel suite, killing 60 people before taking his own life.
ORLANDO, June 12, 2016 – A gunman fatally shot 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub, before he was shot dead by police.
SAN BERNARDINO, Dec. 2, 2015 – A husband and wife killed 14 people at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino in Southern California before dying in a shootout with police.
ROSEBURG, Oct 1, 2015 – A gunman stalked onto an Oregon college campus and opened fire, killing nine people before police shot him to death.
CHARLESTON, June 17, 2015 – A white supremacist killed nine Black churchgoers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was sentenced to death.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2013 – A former Navy reservist working as a government contractor killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard. He was shot dead by police.
NEWTOWN, Dec. 14, 2012 – A heavily armed gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children from five- to 10-years old, in a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
AURORA, July 20, 2012 – A masked gunman killed 12 people at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado. He received multiple life sentences.
FORT HOOD, Nov. 5, 2009 – An army major and psychiatrist opened fire at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas, killing 13 people.
The deadliest shooting in modern California history was in 1984 when a gunman killed 21 people at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, near San Diego.