Monterey Park shooting suspect is dead, sheriff says

Published January 22, 2023 at 7:13 AM EST
A police vehicle is seen near a mass shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., after a Lunar New Year celebration.
Robyn Beck
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AFP via Getty Images
Police search a van in Torrance, Calif. The shooting suspect may have been inside, police said.

A shooting in the city of Monterey Park, just outside of Los Angeles, has left 10 people dead and at least 10 others wounded. The attack came at the end of a day of celebration in the predominantly Asian American community in observance of the Lunar New Year.

Here's what we know:

  • Los Angeles County Sheriff Rob Luna said the suspect, a 72-year-old Asian male, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was found inside a white van.
  • Authorities said five men and five women were killed in the attack. Victims were in their 50s, 60s and older, the sheriff said.
  • Police do not know a motive.
  • Ten people wounded in the shooting were brought to local hospitals ranging in condition from stable to critical, officials said.
  • The attack was at least the 33rd mass shooting in the U.S. this year — and the second in California in less than a week.

Major cities step up security for Lunar New Year celebrations after deadly shooting

Posted January 22, 2023 at 9:04 PM EST

Major U.S. cities are bolstering security for Lunar New Year celebrations as a precautionary measure following Saturday night’s mass shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., that left 10 dead and 10 injured.

Officials have not released any details about the suspected gunman’s potential motive, nor whether the attack was connected to the timing of the area’s popular Lunar New Year celebrations. Local authorities said it was unclear whether the shooting was a targeted hate crime.

Authorities say the suspect, a 72-year-old Asian male, is dead.

LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said his department has told other agencies to prioritize security at any event. “That’s not to indicate that we think there’s a threat there. We’re just taking every precaution that we can,” he added.

In San Francisco, the police department will be increasing police presence in the city “to ensure safe celebrations,” said Mayor London Breed.

The New York City Police Department told CNN it’s planning to have “an adequate security presence at Lunar New Year events” throughout the city, “out of an abundance of caution.”

Philadelphia is increasing police patrols “in affected communities,” following the mass shooting, said the city’s police department.

The Houston Police Department said it would also step up police patrols in and around Lunar New Year festivities across the city.

The shooting suspect is dead, sheriff says

Updated January 22, 2023 at 9:13 PM EST
Posted January 22, 2023 at 8:37 PM EST

The man who authorities say shot and killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a dance hall in Monterey Park, Calif., is dead. Authorities say the gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot following a traffic stop in Torrance, Calif., hours after Saturday night’s mass shooting.

The gunman is identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran. Authorities say he acted alone. It’s unknown if the man had a criminal history or was known to police.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna says investigators do not know a motive.

They did not identify any of the victims pending notification of family members. Luna said the deceased were older and “not in their 20s or 30s [but] probably in their 50s, 60s and beyond.”

In a news conference, Sheriff Luna gave new details about what happened during the Saturday night shootings. The gunman entered a dance studio in Monterey Park and began firing. Ten people were killed and ten others were wounded. Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese says officers responded within three minutes of the first 911 call.

The suspect was still able to get away – driving several miles away to a different ballroom called Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra. He entered the building and two people disarmed him of a “magazine-fed assault-style pistol.”

When asked if that type of gun was legal in California, the sheriff said he believed it was not. It’s unknown how the suspect obtained the gun. Luna said the suspect went to the second location with the “intent to kill more people.”

Tran then fled in a white cargo van and around 10:20 a.m. was spotted by police officers in Torrance. Sheriff Luna said the van’s driver pulled over in a parking lot and officers exited their vehicles and approached the van. They heard a single gunshot from inside the vehicle.

The officers retreated and called for SWAT and tactical backup. At 12:52 p.m., authorities breached the van and found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Luna said there were several pieces of evidence in the van linking the suspect to both crime scenes in Monterey Park and Alhambra. The sheriff mentioned the license plates on the van were also improper and “I’m assuming they were stolen.” They also found a small-caliber handgun in the van.

SWAT officers breach a white van surrounded by police in Torrance

Updated January 22, 2023 at 4:47 PM EST
Posted January 22, 2023 at 4:19 PM EST

About a dozen tactical officers breached a white van in Torrance, Calif., after it had been surrounded by police as part of the investigation into Saturday’s shooting.

Officers could be seen pulling items out of the van. A television anchor watching the live coverage said he could see a person slumped over inside the vehicle who then was removed by law enforcement.

During an earlier press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Rob Luna said the van appeared to be the one described by witnesses but that authorities weren’t sure the suspect was inside.

“People have asked, ‘Is that your suspect?’ ” Luna said. “We don’t know.”

At 1:32 p.m., the Special Enforcement Bureau of the LA County Sheriff's Department tweeted: "SWAT operation for an armed suspect in Torrance has concluded. Neighborhood safe."

Monterey Park council member Thomas Wong says his community is shocked, saddened and "on edge"

Posted January 22, 2023 at 3:20 PM EST

Monterey Park council member Thomas Wong said his community was shocked, saddened and "on edge" as the suspect is not yet in custody.

"Instead of celebrating and bringing family together to look forward to a hopeful and prosperous new year, we're starting it off with a senseless tragedy," Wong told NPR.

Wong represents District 1, where the shooting took place. He was also born and raised in Monterey Park.

Wong said the city is home to Asian Americans of all backgrounds, from countries like China, Korea and Vietnam. It also prides itself for being multi-generational, meaning it is a popular area for both new immigrants and second- and third-generation Asian Americans.

The annual Lunar New Year festival that began in the city on Saturday is considered the largest cultural celebration in Monterey Park and one of the biggest in Southern California.

Throughout the years, the street fair served as an opportunity to showcase the best that Monterey Park had to offer. That was especially true this year, Wong said, after the festival went on a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns.

Wong describe the area where a gunman opened fire at a dance hall as a "popular spot." He's visited a nearby bank and noodle shop countless times in the past. On the day of the shooting, Wong was less than two blocks away at the festival's opening ceremony just a few hours before a gunman opened fire at a dance hall.

Though he never visited the ballroom studio, he described it as a staple in the community where residents went for dance lessons and to enjoy each other's company.

Police have released a photo of the suspect in the Monterey Park shooting

Posted January 22, 2023 at 2:37 PM EST

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office has released a photo of the suspect they say was involved in the Saturday evening shooting in Monterey Park.

Sheriff Robert Luna said in a tweet that the suspect, described as "male/adult/Asian," should be considered armed and dangerous.

Photos show a man wearing a black leather jacket, glasses and a beanie. He is described as 5’10” and weighing 150 pounds.

Police have surrounded a white van described earlier by authorities

Posted January 22, 2023 at 2:30 PM EST

A dozen police cars have converged on a white van in Torrance, Calif. The van is the same type mentioned by the Los Angeles County sheriff during a news conference discussing the search for a suspect in the Monterey Park killings.

Live television coverage shows the activity is in a parking lot on a commercial block. Two SWAT vehicles have pinned the white cargo van at the front and the back.

Torrance is 29 miles from Monterey Park – and on the other side of the LA Basin, south of Los Angeles International Airport.

Vice President Harris grieves the tragedy that took place in her home state of California

Posted January 22, 2023 at 1:45 PM EST

Vice President Kamala Harris said her prayers go out to the victims killed and wounded in yesterday's mass shooting.

Harris was in Tallahassee, Fla. on Sunday to speak on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

She said she felt compelled to share remarks on the tragedy that took place in her home state of California.

"A time of a cultural celebration, and yet another community has been torn apart by senseless gun violence," Harris said.

The vice president added that the administration plans to provide "full support" to the local authorities as they learn more about the deadly attack.

Authorities say it’s still safe to attend Lunar New Year celebrations in the area

Posted January 22, 2023 at 1:34 PM EST

Monterey Park has brought in extra officers from home to ensure public safety, and people who want to celebrate the Lunar New Year should continue to do so, law enforcement officials said.

Asked by a reporter if it was safe for people to attend Chinese New Year events in the area near the shooting, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna replied that it was.

“Yes. Yes. And if that changes we will immediately notify our community through all of you,” Luna said.

The suspect in the shooting that left 10 people dead and 10 people injured is still at large.

The attack took place shortly after the first day of the city’s Lunar New Year Festival. The second day of the festival has been canceled.

In response to a question about security at the festival, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese defended the measures his department took.

“I had dozens of officers present. I had officers walking around in plain clothes. I had officers in uniform. I had tactical officers walking around with long guns. I had drones overhead. I had the perimeter locked down with barriers,” Wiese said.

He added that it would have been impossible to screen attendees for weapons because there were more than 100,000 people present.

“Yesterday was a safe event, primarily because of the diligence of my officers that were present there,” Wiese said of the festival, noting that the shooting was a separate occurrence. “It has no relation to the Chinese New Year event earlier in the day.”

5 women and 5 men were killed in the shooting

Posted January 22, 2023 at 12:59 PM EST
Half of the victims were women, half were men in Monterey Park mass shooting
Jae C. Hong/AP
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AP
Investigators are seen outside Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Sunday.

Five women and five men were killed in the Monterey Park dance studio shooting that left 10 people pronounced dead at the scene, the Los Angeles County sheriff said at a news conference Sunday.

Sheriff Robert Luna did not provide details on the ages of the victims or other identifying information.

At least 10 others were wounded in the attack. Those victims were rushed to area hospitals, officials said Sunday, in conditions ranging from stable to critical.

TV images of scenes outside the studio showed some injured people who appeared to be older and people of Asian descent.

A separate incident in a neighboring town may be related to the shooting

Posted January 22, 2023 at 12:53 PM EST

During his remarks to the press on Sunday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna described an incident that occurred in the nearby city of Alhambra, Calif., that may be related to the attack in Monterey Park.

According to Luna, an Asian male suspect apparently entered an Alhambra dance hall with a gun and had the gun wrestled away from him by people inside. The suspect then fled, and Luna said some witnesses in the area described seeing a white cargo van.

“We believe there’s an incident that may be related,” he said. “We’re not there yet, but it’s definitely on our radar screen.”

Police recovered a weapon from the Alhambra scene, and Luna said it was possible that it was the same gun used in the Monterey Park shooting, but that investigators weren’t sure yet.

Luna said the weapon retrieved in Alhambra was “not an assault rifle.”

Police say they are searching for an Asian male suspect who is still at large

Posted January 22, 2023 at 12:34 PM EST

Law enforcement officials investigating the shooting in Monterey Park say they are searching for an Asian male suspect between the ages of 30 and 50.

But Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna cautioned during a Sunday news conference that authorities had received multiple descriptions of the suspect and that the information was preliminary.

The attack late Saturday took place in a community that is predominantly made up of Asian Americans. When asked about the motive behind the shooting and whether it was a hate crime, Luna said it was too early to tell.

"Everything's on the table," Luna said. "We don’t know if this is specifically a hate crime defined by law. But who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?"

President Biden says he's praying for the victims of the shooting

Posted January 22, 2023 at 11:43 AM EST

President Biden said in a tweet Sunday morning that he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for the victims of the Monterey Park attack.

"Jill and I are praying for those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park," he said.

"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 added.

The attack is the latest in a long line of mass shootings in California

Posted January 22, 2023 at 11:21 AM EST

The official number of casualties is still unknown, but the shooting in Monterey Park appears to be one of the deadliest in California history, with at least 10 people killed.

It’s one of a number of high-profile mass shootings the state has suffered in recent years.

In 2015 a married couple shot and killed 14 people in a terrorist attack at a holiday party in San Bernardino. Three years later, in 2018, 12 people — including a police officer — were killed when a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.

Nine people died when a transit worker opened fire at a light-rail facility in San Jose in 2021, and nine people were also killed during a shooting and arson attack at a home in Covina in 2008.

California’s deadliest mass shooting — which at the time was the worst in modern U.S. history — occurred at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro in 1984. Agunman killed 21 customers and workers at the fast food restaurant.

The Monterey Park attack was the second mass shooting to take place in California in recent days. Six people — including a 16-year-old mother and her 10-month-old baby — were killed at a home in Goshen, a central California farming town, on Monday.

California officials are mourning the tragic attack in Monterey Park

Posted January 22, 2023 at 11:01 AM EST

California Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned the shooting in Monterey Park, calling the incident "a horrific and heartless act of gun violence."

Newsom said that there is still more to learn about what unfolded last night and that he is monitoring the situation closely.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass also spoke out against the shooting, describing it as a "plague" to the community.

She added that the community stands in solidarity with Monterey Park, just outside of LA, as authorities determine whether the attack was racially motivated.

U.S. congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, said she was "heartbroken" for her hometown.

Chu has lived in Monterey Park for over 30 years. She was a city council member and then a three-term mayor for the city before pursuing state leadership.

Violence against Asian Americans

Asian Americans are gripped with anxiety over the shooting in light of growing anti-Asian attacks

Posted January 22, 2023 at 10:24 AM EST

Asian Americans across the country are rattled by the recent tragedy in southern California.

Though local authorities in Monterey Park have not yet identified the race of the victims or the suspect's possible motive, the shooting's proximity to Asian-owned homes and businesses eerily resemble the horrific crimes involving Asian Americans in recent years.

Violence against Asian American community members has been a long concern, but since the pandemic, attacks have soared. The coalition Stop AAPI Hate reported nearly 11,500 racially-motivated incidents between March 2020 and March 2022. Attacks most commonly occurred on public streets and inside businesses, including the 2021 attack on three spas in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.

California reported the largest number of incidents, according to a 2022 report, but the group found troubling cases across the country.

"Hate happens everywhere — in both large cities and small towns, in AAPI enclaves and in places where AAPI communities are few and far between," Stop AAPI Hate wrote.

President Biden has been briefed on the shooting

Posted January 22, 2023 at 9:32 AM EST

Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall has briefed President Biden on the shooting in Monterey Park, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.

Biden “directed her to make sure that the FBI is providing full support to local authorities, and to update him regularly today as more details are known,” Jean-Pierre added.

There have already been more than 30 mass shootings in the U.S. this year

Posted January 22, 2023 at 9:21 AM EST

The shooting in Monterey Park comes amid an already violent year for the U.S.

The country has seen at least 33 mass shootings in 2023 alone, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive.

The archive defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are injured or killed, other than the shooter.

An estimated 2,539 people have been killed by gun violence so far this year, including 1,452 suicides.

“We don’t have to live this way,” Brady, a group working to combat gun violence, tweeted in response to the shooting. “We need #GunReformNow.”

The attack happened in a community that is largely made up of Asian Americans

Posted January 22, 2023 at 8:24 AM EST

Monterey Park’s population is more than 65% Asian, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The city of nearly 60,000 residents had just wrapped up the first day of its Lunar New Year Festival when the shooting occurred.

The popular two-day celebration, which has now been canceled by organizers, was expected to attract 100,000 attendees per day.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who took part in the first day of the event, said in a tweet that Monterey Park has “one of the largest percentages of AAPI residents in the U.S.”

The shooting came during an uptick in reported crimes against Asian people since the start of the COVID pandemic, and analysts say official data likely underestimates the scope of the problem.

The Associated Press reported that, despite the persistent threats against Asian people, many were looking forward to marking the Lunar New Year after some celebrations were canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Authorities are searching for the attacker

Posted January 22, 2023 at 8:10 AM EST

Local authorities said they are looking for a man who fled after the shooting. Police are also investigating a possible second scene in Alhambra, about two miles north of Monterey Park.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Captain Andrew Meyer did not give further details about the shooter or a possible motive during an early morning media briefing. Meyer said it was unclear whether the shooting was a targeted hate crime.

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

The shooting broke out after a day of celebration in Monterey Park

Posted January 22, 2023 at 7:59 AM EST

At least 10 people were killed and 10 others were wounded in a shooting Saturday evening in a city east of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

The gunfire was reported around 10:22 p.m. local time inside a Chinese-owned ballroom dance studio on West Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park.

Local police arrived to find "individuals pouring out of the location," LA County Sheriff's Department's Captain Andrew Meyer said in a news conference on Sunday.

At least 10 people were taken to area hospitals with conditions ranging from stable to critical.

The attack occurred at the end of the first day of a two-day street festival to celebrate Lunar New Year. The event, which began on the eve of Lunar New Year, is one of the largest free street fairs in Southern California, typically drawing crowds of over 100,000 visitors and over a hundred food vendors, performances and merchants.

Monterey Park Police said the festival has been canceled because of the shooting.