Monterey Park police officers stand at the scene of a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, on Jan 22, 2023. (ROBYN BECK / AFP)
LOS ANGELES – A gunman killed 10 people at a ballroom dance hall during a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration late on Saturday near Los Angeles before fleeing the scene and later killing himself when approached by police on Sunday, authorities said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said during a Sunday afternoon press conference the motive for the mass shooting was not known. He identified the suspect as Huu Can Tran, 72, who wielded a pistol with a high-capacity magazine.
"We want to know, we want to know how something this awful can happen," Luna told reporters.
Luna said Tran turned a handgun on himself on Sunday morning as police approached a white van he was driving in Torrance, about 20 miles (34 km) from the site of the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park
Luna said Tran turned a handgun on himself on Sunday morning as police approached a white van he was driving in Torrance, about 20 miles (34 km) from the site of the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park.
Five of the victims were male and five were female, Luna said. Their identities have not been made public. Another ten people were shot, and seven of them remain hospitalized, with at least one person in critical condition, authorities said.
The sheriff's department released images of the suspect apparently taken from surveillance camera footage showing him wearing spectacles, dressed in a dark jacket and a dark beanie hat with white stripe.
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Luna confirmed that Tran was involved in another incident at a dance venue in the neighboring city of Alhambra about 20 minutes after the Saturday night shooting in Monterey Park. At the second venue, witnesses said Tran walked in holding a gun that patrons were able to grab. No one was shot and Tran fled, Luna said.
Torrance police officers and other law enforcement gather after breaking into a van with a body in the driver's seat in Torrance, California, on Jan 22, 2023. (ROBYN BECK / AFP)
When police arrived at the Monterey Park ballroom, people were "pouring out of the location screaming," department captain Andrew Meyer told reporters at a news briefing.
The shooting occurred near the site of a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. Tens of thousands of people gathered on Saturday for the start of Chinese Lunar New Year festivities, one of the largest events in the region.
The festivities scheduled for Sunday have been cancelled after the shooting, police told press.
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Videos on social media showed police and fire units swarming an area on Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park and victims being treated.
Edwin Chen, a local resident who grew up in the area, drove from Woodland Hills to Monterey Park after hearing about the shooting.
Local residents watch police investigate the scene of a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, on Jan 22, 2023. (ROBYN BECK / AFP)
He told Xinhua that he was saddened by this tragedy, as the community was celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 residents in the San Gabriel Valley, has a majority Asian American population.