Posted on January 23, 2023

Authorities Identify Suspected Gunman in Lunar New Year Mass Shooting

Summer Lin et al., Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2023

Authorities have identified the man responsible for a deadly shooting inside a Monterey Park dance studio as 72-year-old Hemet resident Huu Can Tran.

Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a strip mall parking lot, law enforcement sources said.

“We still are not clear on the motive,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. “The investigation continues … we want to know how something this awful can happen.”

The manhunt began after the shooter opened fire inside Star Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue around 10:20 p.m. Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring 10 others. It was Lunar New Year’s Eve.

About 20 minutes after the shooting in Monterey Park, Tran walked into Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in nearby Alhambra, officials said. “The suspect walked in there, probably with the intent to kill two more people,” Luna said. “But two community members disarmed him, took possession of his weapon, and the suspect ran away.”

At 10:20 a.m. Sunday, police located the white cargo van near Sepulveda and Hawthorne boulevards in Torrance that was seen leaving the scene of the shooting, Luna said. When officers left their patrol vehicle to make contact with the occupant, they heard one gunshot come from the van.

At 1 p.m., a SWAT team determined that the suspect had a self-inflicted gunshot wound and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The man inside the van was Tran, the mass shooting suspect authorities said,.

During the search of the van, several pieces of evidence were found linking the suspect to both locations. A handgun inside the van, which had stolen license plates, authorities said.


The weapon taken by community members in Alhambra was a magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol, with an extended magazine attached, according to authorities. This particular firearm with an extended magazine is illegal to possess in California.

An advisory from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department identified the suspect as an adult Asian man, about 5 feet 10 inches and weighing 150 pounds. An image showed the man in a black leather jacket, beanie and glasses.

“I still have questions in my mind, which is, what was the motive for this shooter? Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic violence abuser? How did he get these guns, and was it through legal means? Well, those questions will have to be answered in the future,” said U.S. Rep. Judy Chu during a Sunday night news conference.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said the first law enforcement responders on the scene were “some of my youngest officers,” several of whom had only been on the street for a few months.

“When they came into the parking lot, it was chaos. There were wounded people. There were people trying to flee out all the doors,” Wiese said. They entered the building within a few minutes of arriving, Wiese said, and came across a scene of carnage “that none of them had been prepared for.”

The mass shooting, one of California’s worst in recent memory, has left Angelenos — and the nation — struggling to make sense of the violence.

Wong Wei, who lives near the scene of the shooting, had four friends who were at Star Dance Studio on Saturday night, including his sister. He had been invited to go but decided not to. Wei said one of his friends was injured in the shooting and was lying on the ground with blood on her face.

The gunman was holding a “long” gun and appeared to be firing indiscriminately, Wei was told. The “boss” of the studio, referred to as Ma, had also been shot and was on the floor.

“She said, ‘Certainly, he was dead. He wasn’t moving,’ ” Wei said. He wasn’t sure about the condition of his friend or whether she had been hospitalized.

Seung Won Choi, who owns a seafood barbecue restaurant on Garvey Avenue across from where the shooting happened, said three people rushed into his restaurant and told him to lock the door.

They said there was a man with a semiautomatic gun in the area. The shooter, they said, had multiple rounds of ammunition, so that once his bullets ran out he reloaded, Choi said.

The shooting occurred near where tens of thousands had gathered Saturday for the start of a two-day Lunar New Year festival, one of the largest holiday events in the region.


The festival had been scheduled to conclude Sunday, but the day’s events were canceled “out of an abundance of caution and in reverence for the victims,” Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said.


Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, is 65% Asian American, 27% Latino and 6% white, according to census data.

One of the anchor suburbs in the San Gabriel Valley, Monterey Park is a hub of Asian American supermarkets and restaurants.