Another victim of the mass shooting at a Los Angeles-area dance hall on Saturday night has died, bringing the death toll to 11 people. It’s still not clear what motivated the 72-year-old gunman to perpetrate the attack; he shot and killed himself late Sunday morning after being confronted by police following a 12-hour manhunt. Authorities also say the man was thwarted in an attempt to enter a second dance hall on Saturday night, thanks to the heroics of those inside. More information about the shooter’s possible motive, and his victims, began to emerge Monday. Below is what we know about this still developing story.
Another victim has died
One of the ten people wounded in the attack succumbed to their injuries, L.A. County-USC Medical Center officials announced Monday. The condition of the other six people who remain hospitalized is not clear.
The gunman may have been motivated by jealousy
Law enforcement sources have told the Los Angeles Times that detectives believe the gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, had frequented both dance halls he targeted on Saturday night, and they are investigating whether the rampage was motivated by jealousy over a personal relationship. Per the Times:
The sources stressed that the investigation is in its early stages. But detectives believe that 72-year-old Huu Can Tran had frequented the clubs — the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park and the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra — and that the shooting might have been sparked by a personal dispute. They also believe Tran was having unspecified emotional problems that had been getting worse in the weeks before the shooting. …
[Chester Chong, chair of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles] said conversations among community members in a massive WeChat group after the shooting have led him to believe the shooter’s motive was personal. He said the gunman was looking for a woman who had been invited to an event at the ballroom without him, which made him upset.
Tran, who lived in a mobile-home community in Hemet, California, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound late Sunday morning. Around 10:20 a.m. in a grocery store parking lot in Torrance, California, police attempted to stop the driver of a white van, believing it was the suspected shooter. The driver then shot and killed himself as police approached, and authorities later confirmed that evidence found inside the van indicated that it was the gunman, and that he had acted alone.
On Sunday, authorities said they were still investigating the gunman’s motive and had not ruled out any possibilities, including whether the shooting could be classified as a hate crime, or whether he knew any of his victims.
During the manhunt, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department released these images of the suspect:
Information about some of the victims began to emerge Monday. The gunman killed five men and five women in the attack; all were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, authorities say. Two of those victims have been officially identified as of midday Monday: My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 63
An 11th person subsequently died of their injuries at L.A. County-USC Medical Center. Six of the ten victims who were injured in the attack remained hospitalized as of Monday.
America’s latest mass shooting struck the Star Dance Studio in downtown Monterey Park, a majority Asian community of about 60,000 people just east of Los Angeles, which is known as the country’s “first suburban Chinatown.” The San Gabriel Valley city hosts what is traditionally one of Southern California’s largest Lunar New Year celebrations, a two-day festival that began Saturday.
The first 911 calls came in around 10:22 p.m. Saturday, and police officers responded within minutes. “When officers arrived on scene, they observed numerous individuals, patrons … pouring out of the location, screaming. The officers made entry to the location and located additional victims,” Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told reporters early Sunday morning. Ten people were pronounced dead at the scene and another ten victims were transported to area hospitals. Seven victims remained hospitalized as of Sunday afternoon.
Police say that about 20 minutes after the shooting in Monterey Park, the gunman attempted to attack a second dance hall, the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in the neighboring community of Alhambra. There, the gunman entered the business but he was confronted and quickly disarmed an employee inside, and then he fled. There were no injuries at the second dance hall. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the heroic intervention “saved a lot of lives.”
Luna described the weapon the wrestled away from the gunman as a “magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol. Not an assault rifle, but an assault pistol that had an extended large capacity magazine attached to it.” CNN reports that according to a law enforcement source, the specific firearm was a Cobray M11 9mm semi-automatic — which resembles the MAC-11 subcompact machine pistol. Police have not confirmed that this was the same weapon he used in the earlier shooting. A handgun was also found in the gunman’s van.
The owner of a restaurant across the street from Star Dance Studio told the Los Angeles Times that people fleeing the shooting told him there was a man with a semiautomatic gun who had reloaded after running out of ammunition. A nearby resident told the Times that friends who had been inside the dance studio when the shooting started said the gunman appeared to be firing indiscriminately and was armed with a long gun:
Wong Wei, who lives nearby, said his friend had gone to the dance club that night with a few of her friends. His friend was in the bathroom when the shooting started.
When she came out, he said, she saw a gunman and three bodies — two women and one person who was the boss of the club, Wei said. He said his friend escaped to his home around 11 p.m.
The shooter was carrying a long gun and appeared to fire indiscriminately, his friends told him.
“They don’t know why, so they run,” he said.
The Shattered Community
Roughly two-thirds of Monterey Park’s residents are of Asian descent, and the community’s popular two-day Lunar New Year festival began Saturday, attracting tens of thousands of people. Adds the Associated Press:
The shooting occurred at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a few blocks from city hall on Monterey Park’s main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls full of small businesses whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened regularly in the city.
The business offered dance lessons from Tango to Rumba to the Fox Trot, and rented its space for events. On Saturday, its website said it was hosting an event called “Star Night” from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m..
A dance instructor who taught at the studio told the Los Angeles Times that the weekly Saturday night parties were mostly attended by seniors, including people in their 80s and 90s.
Sunday’s events for Monterey Park’s Lunar Near Year festival were canceled “out of an abundance of caution and in reverence for the victims,” Monterey Park police chief Scott Wiese announced Sunday morning.
The incident was California’s third mass shooting involving four or more victims this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since 21 people were killed in the Uvalde school shooting in late May.
This post has been updated throughout.