All 11 victims of the Lunar New Year dance studio mass shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., were between the ages of 57 and 76, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office said in a statement.
The victims, five men and six women, were all publicly identified on Tuesday by the coroner’s office. The female victims were identified as Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hongying Jian, 62; Lilian Li, 63; Mymy Nhan, 65; Muoi Dai Ung, 67; and Diana Man Ling Tom, 70. The male victims were identified as Wen-Tau Yu, 64; Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68; Ming Wei Ma, 72; Yu-Lun Kao, 72; and Chia Ling Yau, 76.
As investigators work to determine the motive, the community faces a long road to recovery, the city’s mayor said.
“People are in disbelief and shocked, and they’re feeling very numb,” Mayor Henry Lo told CNN late Monday night.
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The Saturday night shooting came as the city’s mostly Asian community was celebrating the Lunar New Year, turning one of the most auspicious days on the calendar into a tragedy.
“There is a lot of fear and anxiety out there. People dread this kind of situation where our joyous Lunar New Year celebration has been totally turned into tragedy and fear,” Representative Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, said Monday at a candlelight vigil for the victims. .
California Governor Gavin Newsom was meeting with victims of the shooting on Monday when he was taken away to be briefed on another fatal shooting in Half Moon Bay – the state’s second mass shooting in three days. “Tragedy after tragedy,” Newsom said in a tweet.
Authorities revealed new details on Monday of their search of the home of Monterey Park shooting suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, in Hemet, about 130 kilometers 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 authorities to believe he was “manufacturing homemade gun suppressors,” the County Sheriff’s Office said. Los Angeles, Robert Luna.
Still, as investigators delve into the large cache of ammunition they found, it remains unclear what prompted Saturday night’s attack on the Star Ballroom Dance Studio and later on the Lai Lai Ballroom.
“Did he plan this? Was it the day of? Was it the week before? Luna said at a news conference on Monday. “We do not know. But we intend to find out.
Three people who knew Tran, including his ex-wife, told CNN he was once a familiar face at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where he taught informal dance classes. But it’s unclear how many times he visited in recent years, if at all, and authorities are still investigating whether he knew any of the victims.
“It certainly looks like it was targeted,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told CNN. “Clearly he knew where he was going and was familiar with both locations.”
Mayor Lo said Tuesday that he hopes the dance hall can once again become a safe place for the community.
“It was a place for people to socialize, learn to dance,” he said. “We want to make sure this dance hall continues to thrive and people feel safe socializing.”
Filming at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio took place around 10:22 pm on Saturday. The gunman fired 42 rounds of ammunition from a semi-automatic weapon into the dance hall before leaving, according to Sheriff Luna.
At least one person was shot in a vehicle outside the dance studio, and police believe Tran shot that person before entering the dance studio and opening fire on the crowd of civilians, the sheriff said.
Monterey Park officers were on the soundstage within three to four minutes, arriving at a scene of “carnage” as people were injured and others left the scene, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said.
About 20 minutes after the shooting, the suspect – still armed – appeared at a second dance studio in nearby Alhambra. There, a 26-year-old civilian attacked him and wrested the gun from him, saving countless more lives, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday.
“I just had this rush of thought and adrenaline. I managed to come to the conclusion that I needed to do something, I needed to get the gun. I needed to save myself and the people inside,” Tsay said.
The suspect fled and Tsay called police to the scene, where investigators traced the firearm to Tran, according to an officer with knowledge of the case. The weapon was described as a 9mm semi-automatic MAC-10 pistol with a large-capacity extended magazine, according to Luna, who added that the assault weapon appears to have been modified.
California banned the use of large-capacity magazines holding 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 as a SWAT team raided the vehicle. The sheriff said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators also recovered a 7.62×25 Norinco handgun registered to the suspect inside the van, Luna said.
Ballistic and forensic comparisons will need to be made on all items recovered from the alleged shooter’s home as authorities also investigate Tran’s story.
So far, the sheriff said the suspect had a “limited criminal history,” noting a 1990 arrest for illegal possession of a firearm.
Those who knew the suspect said he had a fiery and difficult temper.
Ilie Bardahan, a dancer at the Lai Lai Ballroom at the Alhambra, said Tran had a “very bad temper”, adding that “people say he was a bit of a psychopath in a sense”.
“Very strong movement, pushing a little bit, not being satisfied with certain, I don’t know, improvements from any students he’s had,” Bardahan said.
Adam Hood said he rented an apartment from Tran and had known him for 20 years, but they fell out and hadn’t seen each other in about 8 or 9 years. He said that Tran went by the name “Andy”.
“His personality can be summed up in two words: distrust – he didn’t trust anyone – and hate. He could hate people to death. He took it to the extreme,” Hood said. “(He hated) anyone he thought wasn’t nice to him. There were other dance instructors that he didn’t like at both (dance studios).”
Hood added that Tran thought “the instructors weren’t nice to him, he thought they were badmouthing him. This was baseless. He was always unhappy with the people in the studios, always complaining about the studio heads and other instructors, not the students. It was all in his head.”
Representative Judy Chu said the gunman who killed 11 on Saturday night “took them away from their families on what should 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 the dead was a Chinese citizen, and one of the victims, Alvero, was an American citizen of Filipino descent, according to the countries’ consulates in Los Angeles.
Alvero’s son told CNN that 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,” said Val Anthony Alvero of his father. “He loved that sort of thing.”
Nhan, known as “Mymy”, loved to dance and spent many years in the dance studio where she was killed, according to a statement from her family.
Nhan’s dance instructor, Maksym Kapitanchuk, told CNN that she was a delight to be around.
“She always had a smile,” Kapitanchuk said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without her smile – even through the mask I can see her eyes smiling. She was the delight of the gang, of any party, of any gang.”
At Monday’s vigil, leaders described the shock and loss felt in the Monterey Park community.
“This hit very close to home,” said Chun-Yen Chen, executive director of the Asia Pacific Community Fund.
On Saturday, community members celebrated the Lunar New Year in the ballroom alongside dancing grandparents. “Now some of them are no longer with us,” she said.
Many leaders praised the community for coming together after the tragedy.
“We will not allow this murderer to defeat us,” former Assembly member Mike Eng said at the vigil. “Let’s move forward with more enthusiasm and more love, because the only thing that defeats hate is love.”
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