Monterey Park, California massacre: Death toll rises to 11 as investigators search for gunman’s motive



CNN

The death toll from Saturday’s mass shooting at a Monterey Park, California, dance club rose to 11 on Monday as investigators searched for a motive for the gunman’s death.

Officials initially said 10 people were killed in the Star Ballroom Dance Studio shooting and that at least 10 were hospitalized. LAC + USC Medical Center, which treated four of the 10 injured, said Monday that one had died.

“Our brave staff at LAC + USC Medical Center worked tirelessly to care for the four victims entrusted to our care. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we are saddened to share that one of the victims has been lost “They have suffered many injuries. We want to express our condolences to their families and loved ones,” the hospital said.

The additional death comes as investigators probe the background of 72-year-old gunman Huu Can Tran, who opened fire on revelers celebrating Chinese New Year in an ancient Asian American city.

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Afterwards, Tran went to another dance studio near the Alhambra, but was framed and disarmed by someone. He fled the scene and police found him a day later in a white van 30 miles away in Torrance, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The bloody hurricane turned one of the darkest days on the calendar for Asian Americans into a day of unimaginable, yet potentially even more deadly, tragedy.

There are still few details about the motivation of the shooter, an elderly Chinese expatriate who is described as having an interest in dance and anger.

In carrying out the attack, he used a semi-automatic handgun with an extended capacity magazine, authorities said. A law enforcement official told CNN it was a Cobray M11 9 mm semi-automatic weapon. The weapon, which had been taken from the Alhambra dance studio, was traced to the suspect, who gave authorities his name and description.

All 10 people were initially reported dead – five men and five women – were over 50, and nine were in their 60s and 70s. Among those killed were My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 63, the Los Angeles County sheriff’s office said Monday.

Nhan, known as “Mymy,” loved to dance and spent many years at the dance studio where she was killed, according to a statement from her family. Nhan was a “loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend” and was the “great leader of the family,” the family said.

Tiffany Liou, a reporter for CNN’s WFAA in Dallas, told CNN and also posted on Twitter that Nhan is her husband’s aunt. “Mymy treated her nieces and nephews like her own,” Liou wrote on Twitter. “His kindness is what is needed in this world.”

The massacre, one of at least 36 mass shootings in the United States so far this month, has mostly targeted members of the Asian community, who have faced deadly attacks and violence since the Covid-19 pandemic. 19 starts. About 65% of Monterey Park’s residents are of Asian descent and about 100,000 people from southern California come for Chinese New Year celebrations.

“We’ve been on the edge over the past few years with the rise of Covid and the impact of our community, and the rise of anti-Asianism in our communities,” Monterey Park City Council Member Thomas Wong said. CNN. “And to deal with this on top of that – for our community – has been very unfortunate.”

Mourners leave flowers near the site of the massacre during Chinese New Year celebrations in Monterey Park.

Authorities are working to piece together the pieces of Tran’s life to understand how he became so violent.

In his white van in Torrance, investigators found a handgun along with “several pieces of evidence” linking him to dance studios in Monterey Park and Alhambra, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.

The sheriff’s department also obtained a search warrant for Tran’s home in The Lakes in Hemet West, an upscale community about 80 miles east of Monterey Park, a Hemet Police spokesman confirmed. .

Hemet police also said Tran visited their office two weeks ago and made serious allegations of wrongdoing.

“Tran visited the Hemet Police Department on January 7 and January 9, 2023, alleging burglary, theft and poisoning charges involving his family in the Los Angeles area over the past 10 to 20 years, ” the police said in a statement. “Tran said he would return to the station with the documents related to his charges but he never did.”

Tran was once a familiar face at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where she gave informal dance lessons, three people who knew her told CNN. But it is unclear how often he has visited in recent years, if at all.

He even met his ex-wife there about two decades ago after seeing her at a dance, introduced himself and offered her free lessons, the ex-wife said. He said the two got married soon after they met. He asked not to be named because of the complexity of the case.

Tran worked as a truck driver at times, he said. He was an immigrant from China, according to a copy of his marriage certificate that he showed to CNN.

And Tran was angry, his ex-wife and others said.

Although he did not abuse her, the ex-wife said, Tran would get upset if he missed a dance step because he felt he was making her look bad.

She filed for divorce in late 2005, and a judge granted the divorce the following year, Los Angeles court records show.

A long-time acquaintance of Tran also remembered her as a regular patron of the dance studio. The friend, who also asked not to be named, was close to Tran in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when he said Tran would come to the dance studio “so almost every night” from his home in nearby San Gabriel.

At the time, Tran often complained that the instructors at the dance hall did not like her and said “bad things about her,” a friend recalled. He said Tran “was hostile to a lot of people there.”

In general, Tran was irritable, complained a lot and seemed to distrust people, the friend said.

A friend of Tran’s was “absolutely shocked” when he heard about the shooting, he said, noting that he hadn’t seen Tran in several years.

The massacre would have killed more people if not for the efforts of at least one person.

Police first responded to the Monterey Park dance studio around 10:20 p.m. and found the area covered in chaos and blood, said city police chief Scott Wiese. He said the killer had committed a “brutal” murder and fled.

A few miles from the Alhambra, Brandon Tsay was working at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio ticket office when a lone gunman entered the business his family had owned for three generations. He knew that the man was a problem.

“From his body, his facial expression, his eyes, he was looking for people,” Tsay told The New York Times.

He said: “He was looking at me and looking around, not hiding that he was trying to hurt me. “His eyes were scary.”

The gunman pointed a semi-automatic weapon at Tsay – the first gun he had seen in real life, he told the Times.

He said: “My heart sank, I knew I was going to die.”

Tsay took action and attacked the man, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“When I was brave, I threw at him with my two hands, grabbed the weapon and we fought,” said Tsay. “We struggled to get into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from the others.”

They struggled for about a minute and a half and Tsay ended up wresting the gunman’s weapon, he told the Times.

Once Tsay got control of the gun, he told the Times, he pointed it at the suspect and yelled at him to “get the hell out of here.” The man ran away, and Tsay called the police.

Officials hailed Tsay’s efforts as heroic and said he had prevented another tragedy. Sheriff Luna said there were two people who disarmed the man.

They saved lives. This could have been worse,” he said.

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