What we know about the Monterey Park mass shooting so far

The US suffered its deadliest shooting in eight months when an elderly gunman killed 10 people in a bloodthirsty rampage on Saturday night.

Huu Can Tran, 72, stormed a dance hall in Monterey Park, southern California on Saturday night, shooting indiscriminately at revelers celebrating Lunar New Year.

Five women and five men were killed, with 10 others wounded in the massacre, before the killer moved to another venue where he was held off by a hero bystander.

A manhunt was launched and police finally tracked down the mass shooter on Sunday and surrounded his white van in a tense hours-long standoff before he shot himself dead.

Here is what we know about the attack so far.

First attack

On Saturday night, large crowds filled the street for the start of the first Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park since before Covid, a city with a large Chinese American population.

But at around 10.20pm, Huu Can Tran entered the Star Ballroom Dance Studio and unleashed chaos.

He opened fire at the dancers, killing five women and five men, and injuring several more.

One witness named Grace recalled the moment the gunman entered, saying: ‘No one dared to flee — we all got down to the ground, hiding wherever we could.’

She said a man called Ma laoban, ‘Boss Ma’, was next to the entrance and appeared to be the first person shot.

Two people beside him then collapsed after five or six shots rang out, she said.

Police are pictured on the scene after the shooting on Saturday night which saw 10 people killed

Police are pictured on the scene after the shooting on Saturday night which saw 10 people killed

Multiple casualties were reported after the shooting in California during New Year celebrations

Ten people were killed when a gunman opened fire in California during New Year celebrations

After the shooter ran out of bullets, he quickly left and came back to unleash a second volley of gunfire.

Bodies lined the wooden floor while others ducked under tables or ran into adjacent rooms during the five-minute bloodbath, she said.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said that within three minutes of receiving the call, officers arrived at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. 

There, they found carnage inside and people trying to flee through all the doors.

‘When they came into the parking lot, it was chaos,’ Wiese said. 

Horrifying pictures showed victims being stretched from the scene before being rushed to hospital as cops and ambulances swarmed the area.

Cops said throngs of terrified festival goers streamed out of the area ‘screaming’ as bullets continued to fly.

Firefighters were spotted treating the wounded in the parking lot outside the dance studio on Saturday night

Firefighters were spotted treating the wounded in the parking lot outside the dance studio on Saturday night

Dozens of cops and firefighters swarmed the scene but the gunman remained on the loose as of Sunday morning

Dozens of cops and firefighters swarmed the scene but the gunman remained on the loose as of Sunday morning

Community members were out dancing and celebrating following a Lunar New Year celebration that had ended about an hour before the shooting

Community members were out dancing and celebrating following a Lunar New Year celebration that had ended about an hour before the shooting

Wong Wei, who lives near the studio, declined to go to the studio on Saturday but his sister and three friends were there.

One of his friends was injured and was lying on the ground with her face covered in blood, he told the LA Times.

Mr Wei still does not know if his friend has survived the shooting or if she was hospitalized.

The gunman quickly fled the scene before he could be halted by police.

Second attack

The shooter then arrived at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra at 10.40pm armed with an illegal, semi-automatic pistol. 

Police said he was looking for more victims but a hero bystander stopped him from adding to the tragic death toll. 

Brandon Tsay was helping at his family’s business when he saw the gunman and confronted him, snatching his weapon away from him and scaring him away. 

The second shooting happened at nearby Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra (pictured)

A second shooting, which cops were probing if it was related, happened at nearby Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra (pictured)

Hero Brandon Tsay, 26, wrestled the gun out of Huu Can Tran's hands after he showed up at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra on Saturday night looking for more victims. Tran, shown in a hat and wearing all black, had just killed ten people at another studio

Hero Brandon Tsay, 26, wrestled the gun out of Huu Can Tran’s hands after he showed up at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra on Saturday night looking for more victims. Tran, shown in a hat and wearing all black, had just killed ten people at another studio 

Tran then fled and was on the loose and dangerous, with police yet to track him down.

Reports suggest that the killer went to hospital with wounds indicative of a fight.

He waited in the emergency room for some time before he decided to leave, witnesses said.

Manhunt

Authorities had been on the lookout for a white cargo van after witnesses reported seeing the suspect fleeing Alhambra. 

A short time after Tran was spotted at the hospital, police pulled over the van which led to the three-hour standoff.

By midday Sunday, police in tactical vehicles and bomb-squad trucks surrounded the van in a parking lot 22 miles from Alhambra in Torrance, another majority Asian community.

Huu Can Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempt at a second shooting that was thwarted by 'hero' patrons

After an hours-long standoff, Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempt at a second shooting that was thwarted by ‘hero’ patrons on Saturday

Tran was removed from the van after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound during standoff

Tran was removed from the van after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound during standoff

It ended as police approached the vehicle and heard a gunshot. 

Tran was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

His body appeared to be slumped over the wheel and was later removed. 

Members of a SWAT team looked through the van’s contents before walking away, and evidence linking him to the attack was found in the vehicle.

The gunman

Police have said the motive behind the attack, which came as Asian communities around the world celebrated the Lunar New Year holiday, remained a mystery. 

CNN reported that Tran had met his ex-wife some 20 years ago at the studio in Monterey Park, a majority Asian American city.

The network did not identify the ex-wife, but said the pair met when Tran – who was giving informal lessons – spotted her and offered lessons.

He was an immigrant from China, CNN reported. The marriage did not last long, with the pair divorcing by 2006.

Huu Can Tran, 72, was named as the gunman by police

Huu Can Tran, 72, was named as the gunman by police 

The ex-wife said Tran was never violent to her, but would become frustrated when, for example, she missed a step in a dance.

He reportedly believed that other instructors said ‘evil things about him,’ an unnamed friend told CNN.

The network said it was unclear how frequently Tran had visited the studio in recent years.

Police have yet to officially release a motive but a police source told LA Mag: ‘There is increasing evidence this was domestic violence.’

Chester Chong, the chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles and a community leader in Monterey Park, said the suspect may have been jealous about not being invited to a party that his wife attended.

He told ABC 7: ‘This hate is because of wife and husband. I believe because of that there was the killing of innocent people.’

CNN also interviewed an old friend of Tran’s who said at one point he was attending the studio ‘every night’.

Tran was ‘hostile to a lot of people there,’ the friend said.

It was not clear if Tran was still a regular attendee at the Monterey Park studio.

Victims

The first victim of the mass-shooting massacre has been identified as the owner of the ballroom studio – who heroically ran towards the gunman.

Ming Wei Ma is one of ten people who were killed in the horrific massacre at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Saturday night.

Friends of the dance enthusiast have revealed that he was the first one to rush towards the gunman, Huu Can Tran, when he opened fire.

Friends of dance enthusiast Ming Wei Ma, left, have revealed that he was the first one to rush towards the gunman, Huu Can Tran, when he opened fire

Friends of dance enthusiast Ming Wei Ma, left, have revealed that he was the first one to rush towards the gunman, Huu Can Tran, when he opened fire

Dozens of people had packed into the studio on Saturday night to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. 

Ma’s friend, Eric Chen, told CBS: ‘According to the chat, he was the first to rush the shooter. He was just caring, and other first, people first kind of person.

‘It is heartbreaking and it’s unthinkable that it would happen.’

Instructor Lauren Woods added: ‘He was so adorable to me and I could tell he was the heart of Star Ballroom.

‘So many dancers, teachers and organizers were connected with Ma and I personally will miss him dearly.’

Juno Blees said her father Jeff Liu was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after he and his wife Nancy went to the Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park to celebrate Lunar New Year.

Mr Liu, 62, who was released from hospital yesterday, saw his wife, 63, collapse shortly after the attacker, Huu Can Tran, stormed into the crowded room and started firing indiscriminately.

Juno Blees said her father Jeff Liu was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after he and his wife Nancy went to the Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park to celebrate Lunar New Year and her mother is still missing

Juno Blees said her father Jeff Liu was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after he and his wife Nancy went to the Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park to celebrate Lunar New Year and her mother is still missing

The family is still hoping she was taken to hospital without her ID card and they will be reunited.

But she admitted: ‘We are mentally preparing for the worst.’ 

Writing on Twitter, Ms Blees, a game producer, said: ‘My dad got wounded and my mom is still missing. I don’t know what to think or say.’

She later added: ‘An update: My dad was discharged from the hospital with non-life-threatening wounds but we still haven’t found my mom. 

‘The last time my dad saw her was at the scene when she collapsed. They were separated in the panic and were taken to different hospitals.’

Mr Liu described the gunman opening fire at a ticket seller at a booth inside the studio and he immediately jumped to the ground.

But then two bullets grazed Mr Liu’s shoulder and back, causing minor injuries, and he lost sight of his wife after she fell to the floor.

Ms Blees told the New York Times: ‘He bled a lot, but the doctors said it was non-life threatening.’

Authorities have not formally announced the identities of the victims.

The hero 

Brandon Tsay was at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra at 10.40pm last night when gunman Huu Can Tran burst through the doors armed with an illegal, semi-automatic pistol. 

He has since told Good Morning America and The New York Times how he was helping out on Saturday night at his family’s business when dozens had come to the ballroom for a Lunar New Year party.

In an interview with GMA’s Robin Roberts in Monterey Park, Tsay described the moment he realized the shooter had come looking to kill.

‘It was Chinese New Year’s, we were hosting a social dance party. 

Tsay,. 26, told Good Morning America that he thought he was going to die when he saw Tran enter the ballroom with his gun. 'Something came over me...I thought I have to get this gun away from him or else we're all going to die,' he said

Tsay,. 26, told Good Morning America that he thought he was going to die when he saw Tran enter the ballroom with his gun. ‘Something came over me…I thought I have to get this gun away from him or else we’re all going to die,’ he said 

‘I was in the lobby and it was late into the evening. Most of our customers already left, I was looking into the dance ballroom. 

‘This is when I heard the sound of the front door creaking, instantly followed by the sound of metal objects rubbing together. 

‘I turned around and saw there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was, I was going to die here. This is it.’ 

He told The New York Times in a separate interview that it was ‘primal instinct’ to attack him, and that Tran’s eyes were ‘menacing’. 

Tsay had never seen Tran before. 

He said he instantly knew he was there to commit a mass shooting, and was scanning the room for targets. 

‘I could tell he was not here to rob us, he wasn’t looking for money. He was looking around the room. It seemed like he was looking for targets, people to harm.

Tsay fought back and eventually drove Tran out of the ballroom lobby before he could shoot anyone

Tsay fought back and eventually drove Tran out of the ballroom lobby before he could shoot anyone

‘Something came over me – I realized I needed to take this weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died.

‘When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon an we struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face and bashing my head.

‘I was trying to create some distance. Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside and create some distance. 

‘I was able to get the gun and point it at him, intimidate him, shout: “Get the hell away from here! I’ll shoot! Get away!” 

‘At this point, I thought he would run away. He was contemplating whether to fight or run away. I really thought I’d have to shoot him. This is when he turned around and walked out the door, and walked back to his van. 

‘I immediately called the police, with the gun still in my hand. I couldn’t believe what happened,’ he said. 

Gun violence

California Gov. Gavin Newson met with a day after the Lunar mass shooting and called for gun reform. 

Newson was seen walking the streets of the city and gathering with local officials on Sunday night.

‘The strength of this community is incredible,’ Newsom wrote on Twitter

‘No other country in the world is terrorized by this constant stream of gun violence. We need real gun reform at a national level.’

Gov. Gavin Newson urged for gun reforms a day after the Monterey massacre that left 10 dead on amid Lunar New Year celebrations. Newsom arrived in the city to met with residents and local officials

Gov. Gavin Newson urged for gun reforms a day after the Monterey massacre that left 10 dead on amid Lunar New Year celebrations. Newsom arrived in the city to met with residents and local officials

Newsom acknowledged the massacre on social media Sunday morning. He called it 'a horrific and heartless act of gun violence'

Newsom acknowledged the massacre on social media Sunday morning. He called it ‘a horrific and heartless act of gun violence’

Newsom later shared his travels to the city and called for gun reform

Newsom later shared his travels to the city and called for gun reform 

Tran was carrying what was described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where he was found dead, Luna added. 

The pistol is designed to take 30-round magazines which allow for rapid fire without having to frequently change magazines. 

When asked if the gun was legal, Luna said: ‘I believe the weapon … is not legal to have here in the state of California.’

Luna said that he needed to consult the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for further details on the weapon’s legality.

The shooting and manhunt sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities in the Los Angeles area and cast a shadow over Lunar New Year festivities around the country. Other cities sent extra officers to watch over the celebrations. 

The massacre was the nation’s fifth this month and was the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

An Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. shows that 2022 was one of the nation’s worst years with 42 such attacks – the second-highest number since the creation of the tracker in 2006. 

The database defines a mass killing as four people killed, not including the perpetrator. 

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