Sheriff: Suspect in dance club shooting found dead in van
Jan 22, 2023, 6:45 PM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:28 pm
(Jae C. Hong/AP)
(CNN) – Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said investigators have confirmed that the man found dead inside a white cargo van after a standoff with police in Torrance, California, is the same person suspected of carrying out a mass shooting in Monterey Park Saturday night.
Luna said that after the standoff, officers found the man dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Luna identified the suspect as Huu Can Tran, 72.
A man who was barricaded in a white van in Torrance, California, believed to be tied to the Monterey Park dance studio shooting, is dead, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the man is the same man who killed 10 people in Monterey Park, the Los Angeles County sheriff said. SWAT officers had been in an hours-long standoff at the scene of the van.
Multiple law enforcement sources told The Times that the man had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and at least two bullet holes had been visible in the driver’s-side window in the moments prior to their approaching the vehicle.
Police have not publicly confirmed whether the occupant is dead.
As authorities ordered the occupant to leave the van, they heard a sound and believed the driver may have shot himself, law enforcement sources told CNN.
CNN crews on the scene in Torrance have yet to see the driver removed from the van since SWAT teams made entry.
A news conference to discuss the mass shooting will be held Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) at Monterey Park City Hall.
For hours, authorities had been searching for the gunman who opened fire at a dance studio in Monterey Park as the city’s large Asian American community was celebrating Lunar New Year weekend.
A weapon retrieved by law enforcement in a nearby city shortly after the shooting was traced to the suspect, which gave authorities his name and description, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case.
In addition to the 10 people killed, another 10 people were wounded and hospitalized, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert G. Luna said.
“Who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?” the sheriff said.
What we know
• It’s not yet certain whether one or more shooters open fire in Monterey Park, Luna said.
• A group of people wrestled a gun away from man described as an Asian male at a dance studio in the nearby city of Alhambra shortly after the Monterey Park mass shooting, Luna said. The sheriff said investigators are trying to determine whether the two incidents are related.
• Early information suggests the gunman who killed 10 people in Monterey Park may be an Asian male, the sheriff said. While “the description we have now is of a male Asian,” some witnesses’ descriptions of the gunman have differed, Luna said. He cautioned the investigation is ongoing. “There actually is a lot more that we don’t know than what we know at this time,” Luna said.
• It’s still too soon to rule out hate crime as a possible motive, the sheriff said Sunday. “Everything’s on the table.”
• Officers responded to a dance studio around 10:22 p.m. Saturday and found people “pouring out of the location, screaming,” said Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
• The massacre took place in the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, according to a CNN analysis.
• The 10 slain victims were pronounced dead at the scene, Meyer said. “There were at least 10 other victims who were transported to numerous local hospitals and are listed in various conditions from stable to critical,” Meyer said.
The gun wrestled away from the man in Alhambra was a Cobray M11 9mm semi-automatic weapon according to the law enforcement official. This firearm is designed to take 30-round magazines that allow for rapid fire without having to frequently change magazines.
The carnage unfolded near Monterey Park’s Lunar New Year festival, which was scheduled to take place until 9 p.m. on Garvey Avenue between Garfield and Alhambra avenues.
About 65% of Monterey Park’s residents are of Asian descent, according to the US Census Bureau.
While it remains unclear if the separate incidents in Monterey Park and Alhambra are connected and involve the same suspect, “that is the working theory right now,” according to John Miller, CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst.
First, Miller said, police will test-fire a round using the gun recovered in Alhambra that people wrestled away from the suspect.
“That will give the ATF the ability for an immediate comparison of the shell casings to see if that weapon matches the one used in Monterey Park,” Miller said. “A match, of course connects the two incidents more definitively. If there’s not a match, it could mean that the same suspect had multiple weapons and simply entered the second location with a different one.”
While it’s too early to say whether the massacre was a hate crime, the impact has already been felt among one of the largest Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the US, the mayor of nearby Alhambra said.
“To have this tragedy occur on Lunar New Year weekend, makes this especially painful,” Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez tweeted.
“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.”
Monterey Park, about 7 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, has been known to host Lunar New Year events drawing more than 100,000 people from across Southern California, according to the city.
It’s not clear how many people were still gathered in the area when shots were fired.
“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,” Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted.
The local Lunar New Year festival which began Saturday and was scheduled to last into Sunday has been canceled, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said Sunday.
“Out of an abundance of caution and reverence for the victims, we are canceling the event that’s going to happen later today,” Wiese said.
Authorities are asking the public for any clues that may help with the investigation. Those with information can contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or provide an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
The massacre in Monterey Park marks at least the 33rd mass shooting in the US so far this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both the non-profit and CNN define a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.
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