The suspected gunman who allegedly shot 20 people, 10 fatally, at a dance studio near a Lunar New Year celebration in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park has been identified and linked to a second incident the same night, authorities said Sunday.
Huu Can Tran, 72, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a white cargo van in Torrance that law enforcement officers had surrounded and forced their way into about 30 miles from where the massacre occurred, authorities said.
Authorities said they found a handgun and other evidence inside the van. An investigation is ongoing, and authorities say they’re still working to determine the motive.
Tran is also the suspect in an incident that took place at a dance studio late Saturday in the nearby city of Alhambra, authorities said.
In the Alhambra incident, which occurred 17 minutes after the Monterey Park shooting, an Asian man entered the dance studio with a gun, and several people wrestled the weapon away from him before he fled the scene. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Sunday evening that it was not for two community members who jumped in to disarm the suspect, there could have been more victims, calling the two people “heroes.”
The weapon recovered from the Alhambra location was a “magazine-fed semi-automatic assault pistol” that had an extended large-capacity magazine attached to it, Luna said.
The sheriff said he believed the handgun found at the Alhambra location was not legal in the state.
“California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but yet look what we just had today,” Luna said, “the status quo is not working”
SWAT officers broke the driver’s side window of the van around 1 pm local time, about two hours after police made a traffic stop in the Los Angeles County city of Torrance and heard a loud noise coming from inside the vehicle, sources told ABC News.
In addition to the armored police vehicles, the van was surrounded by numerous police officers, including SWAT members, many with their guns drawn and trained on the van.
Monterey Park shooting suspect’s photo released
The standoff in Torrance came as the sheriff’s department released surveillance images of the homicide suspect, saying he was wearing a beanie cap and glasses and was about 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds.
“He should be considered armed and dangerous,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
Some of those injured in the Monterey Park rampage were in critical condition, while others were reported as stable, Luna said at a news conference Sunday morning.
As of Sunday night, seven people remained hospitalized, the sheriff later said.
Luna said five women and five men were killed in the rampage, adding Sunday that the exact ages of the victims are unknown but they’re likely to be people in their 50s to 70s.
‘Everything is on the table’
Luna declined to comment earlier Sunday on a possible motive, but said, “everything is on the table.”
“We don’t know that this was a hate crime as defined by law, but who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?” Luna said.
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting by his Homeland Security adviser, according to the White House, and the FBI has joined the investigation.
“Jill and I are praying for those killed and injured last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park. I’m monitoring this situation closely as it develops, and urge the community to follow guidance from local officials and law enforcement in the hours ahead, ” Biden said in a statement.
In a written statement released later, Biden said that “Jill and I are thinking of those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park,” adding “how deeply this attack has impacted the AAPI community.”
“While there is still much we don’t know about the motive in this senseless attack, we do know that many families are grieving tonight, or praying that their loved one will recover from their wounds,” Biden’s statement said, in part.
Biden also issued a proclamation Sunday night ordering American flags on federal government property to be flown at half-staff through sundown on Thursday “as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence.”
In early alerts sent to Washington, investigators said “they had no idea who the suspect was,” Pierre Thomas, ABC News’ chief justice correspondent, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has also been briefed on the shooting, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
Monterey Park had been hosting the Monterey Park Lunar New Year Festival this weekend, marking the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar. The annual two-day street festival is widely attended, with previous celebrations drawing as many as 100,000 daily visitors, according to the city. More than 65% of Monterey Park’s about 60,000 residents identify as Asian Americans, according to the US Census Bureau.
The sheriff’s department said the shooting erupted around 10:22 pm on West Garvey Avenue, near the downtown area less than a block from where the festival was being held.
The gunman opened fire shortly after entering a dance hall, where people had been celebrating the holiday, police said. It was unclear what type of weapon he used, but Luna said detectives did not believe an assault weapon was involved.
Chaotic crime scenes
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said his officers respondent to reports of shots fired at the dance studio and described a chaotic scene with panicked people running out of the dance hall and gunshot victims lying in the parking lot.
“To have this tragedy occur on Lunar New Year weekend, makes this especially painful,” Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez said in a Twitter posts Sundays. “Monterey Park is home to one of the largest #AAPI communities in the country. This is a time when residents should be celebrating with family, friends and loved ones – not fearing gun violence.”
In a statement Sunday morning, the city of Monterey Park clarified that the shooting did not take place at the Lunar New Year Festival but at the dance studio near the festival that was not connected to the festivities. Officials said Saturday’s festival events were scheduled to finish at 9 pm
City officials said all festival activities for Sunday have been cancelled.
“Even though the incident did not occur at the 2023 Lunar New Year Festival, an active investigation is currently underway and the area near and around the festival is affected. As a precaution and for the safety of everyone, the City regrets to announce the cancellation of the second day of the festival,” city officials said in a statement.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department said it would lead the investigation, after earlier saying it would assists Monterey Park Police. The FBI said it had respondents to the scene to assist.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement on Twitter condemning the attack.
“Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence,” Newsom tweeted. “Our hearts mourn as we learn more about the devastating acts of last night. We are closely monitoring the situation.”
ABC News’ Vanessa Navarrete and Oren Oppenheim contributed to this report.