All 11 victims of the mass shooting at a dance studio on Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, were between 57 and 76 years old, the LA County Coroner’s Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.
The coroner’s office publicly identified the victims, five men and six women, on Tuesday. The female victims were named as Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hong Jian, 62; Lilian Li, 63; My Nan, 65; Muoi Ung, 67; and Diana Tom, 70. The male victims were identified as Wen Yu, 64; Valentino Alvero, 68; Ming Ma, 72; Yu Kao, 72; and Chia Yau, 76.
As investigators work to determine a motive, the community faces a long road to recovery, the city’s mayor said.
“People are in disbelief and shocked, and they feel very numb,” Mayor Henry Lo told CNN Monday night.
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The shooting happened on Saturday night when the city’s majority Asian community was celebrating the Lunar New Year, turning tragedy into one of the most celebrated days of the calendar.
“There’s a lot of fear and anxiety out there. People are afraid of this kind of situation where our joyous celebration of the Lunar New Year has been completely turned upside down into tragedy and fear,” said Rep. Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, Monday at a candlelight vigil for the victims. .
California Gov. Gavin Newsom was meeting with victims of Monday’s shooting when he was pulled away to learn about another deadly mass shooting in Half Moon Bay – the state’s second mass shooting in three days. “Tragedy upon tragedy,” Newsom said in a tweet.
Authorities revealed new details Monday from their search of the home of the Monterey Park shooting suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, in Hemet, about 80 miles east of Monterey Park.
Detectives executed a search warrant and found “hundreds of rounds” of ammunition, a .308-caliber rifle, various electronic devices and evidence that led officers to believe he was “making homemade firearms suppressors,” the County Sheriff said. Los Angeles, Robert Luna.
Still, as investigators investigate the large cache of ammo they found, it remains unclear what prompted the attack Saturday night at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio and later at the Lai Lai Ballroom.
“Did he plan this? Was it his day? Was it the week before?” Luna said at a news conference Monday. “We don’t know. But we plan to find out.”
Three people who knew Tran, along with his ex-wife, told CNN that he was once a familiar face at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where he gave informal dance lessons. But it’s unclear how often he visited in recent years, if at all, and authorities are still investigating whether he knew any of the victims.
“It certainly looks like this was targeted,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told CNN. “He obviously knew where he was going, and he was familiar with both venues.”
Mayor Lo said on Tuesday that he hopes the dance hall will once again be a safe place for the public.
“It was a place for people to socialize, to learn how to dance,” he said. “We want to make sure that this dance hall continues to grow and that people feel safe to socialize.”
The shooting happened at Star Ballroom Dance Studio around 10:22 pm on Saturday. The gunman fired 42 rounds of ammunition from a semi-automatic handgun at the dance hall before leaving the scene, according to Sheriff Luna.
At least one person was shot in a vehicle outside the dance studio, and police believe Tran shot that person first before entering the dance studio and opening fire on the civilian crowd, the sheriff said.
Monterey Park officers were at the studio within three to four minutes, arriving at the scene of a “market” as people were injured and others were pouring out of the venue, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said.
About 20 minutes after the shooting, the suspect – still armed – showed up at another dance studio in nearby Alhambra. A 26-year-old civilian accused him and wrestled the gun from him, which saved countless other lives, he told Anderson Cooper CNN on Monday.
“I just had this rush of thought and adrenaline. I was able to come to the conclusion that I needed to do something, I had to grab the gun. I had to save myself and people inside,” said Tsay.
The suspect fled and Tsay called police to the scene, where investigators traced the firearm to Tran, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case. The weapon was described as a MAC-10 semi-automatic 9 mm pistol with a large-capacity extended magazine, according to Luna, who added that the assault weapon appeared to have been modified.
California has banned the use of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Less than a day later, Tran was found dead inside a white van about 30 miles away in Torrance with a SWAT team swarming the vehicle. The sheriff said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators recovered a Norinco 7.62 x 25 handgun registered to the suspect inside the van, Luna said.
All items recovered from the alleged shooter’s home must undergo ballistic and forensic comparisons, while authorities are also looking into Tran’s history.
So far, the sheriff has said the suspect had a “limited criminal history,” noting a 1990 arrest for illegal possession of a firearm.
Those who met the suspect said he had a hot temper and a difficult temper.
Ilie Bardahan, a dancer at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, said Tran had a “very bad temper”, adding “people say he was a bit psycho in a sense.”
“Very sharp movement, pushing a little bit, not being happy with certain improvements, I don’t know, whatever students he had,” said Bardahan.
Adam Hood said he rents an apartment from Tran and has known him for 20 years, but they had a falling out and hadn’t seen each other for about 8 or 9 years. He said Tran’s name was “Andy”.
“His personality can be summed up in two words: mistrust – he didn’t trust anyone – and hatred. He could hate people to death. He pushed it to the extreme,” Hood said. “(He hated) whoever he thought was not nice to him. There were other dance instructors he didn’t like at both (dance studios).
Hood also said that Tran “thought the instructors weren’t nice to him, he thought they bad mouthed him.” That was baseless. He was always unhappy with the people in the studios, always complaining about studio heads and other instructors, not about the students. It was all in his mind.”
Representative Judy Chu said the gunman who killed 11-year-olds on Saturday night “took them away from their families on what was supposed to be a joyous night, Lunar New Year.”
Two Taiwanese Americans were also among the victims, according to Taiwan’s de facto diplomatic representative in Los Angeles, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
At least one of those killed was a Chinese citizen, and one of the victims, Alvero, was a US citizen of Filipino descent, according to the countries’ consulates in Los Angeles.
Alvero on son told CNN his father He hoped to retire in about a year to return to the Philippines, and said his father spent his free time at the dance studio.
“He would dance around the house,” Val Anthony Alvero said of his father. “He liked that kind of stuff.”
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’s dance instructor, Maksym Kapitanchuk, told CNN she was happy to be around.
“She would always have a smile,” Kapitanchuk said. “I don’t even think I’ve ever seen her without her smile – even through the mask I can see her eyes smiling. She was a great pleasure for the class, for any party, for any class.”
At Monday’s vigil, leaders described the shock and loss felt throughout the Monterey Park community.
“This hit too close to home,” said Chun-Yen Chen, executive director of the Asia-Pacific Community Fund.
On Saturday, members of the community were celebrating the Lunar New Year at the ballroom alongside dancing grandparents. “Some of them are no longer with us,” she said.
Many leaders praised the community for coming together in the wake of the tragedy.
“We will not let this murderer defeat us,” former Assembly member Mike Eng said at the vigil. “We will go forward with more enthusiasm and more love, because the only thing that overcomes hate is love.”