All 11 victims of mass shooting at a dance studio on Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, Calif., were between the ages of 57 and 76, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.
The victims, five men and six women, were publicly identified Tuesday by the coroner’s office. The female victims were named as Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hongying Jian, 62; Lillian Lee, 63; Mymy Nhan, 65; Muoy Dai Ung, 67; and Diana Man Ling Tom, 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.
While investigators work to determine a motive, the community faces a long road to recovery, the city’s mayor said.
“People are just in disbelief and shock and they feel very numb,” Mayor Henry Law told CNN on Monday night.
Saturday night’s shooting occurred as the city’s predominantly Asian community celebrated the Lunar New Year, turning one of the most auspicious days on the calendar into tragedy.
“There is 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 was completely turned upside down in tragedy and fear,” Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, said Monday at a candlelight vigil for the victims.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom met with the victims of the shooting Monday when he was pulled over to be briefed another fatal mass shooting in Half Moon Bay – the second mass shooting in the state in three days. “Tragedy after tragedy,” Newsom said in a tweet.
Authorities revealed new details Monday from their search of Monterey Park shooting home suspect, 72-year-old Huu Canh 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 leading officials to believe he was “making homemade fire extinguishers,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.
Still, as investigators examine the large cache of ammunition they discovered, it remains unclear what motivated the attack on saturday night at Star Ballroom Dance Studio and later at Lai Lai Ballroom.
“Did he plan this? Was it the day of? Was it last week?” Luna said at a news conference Monday. “We don’t know. But we intend to find out.
Three people who knew Tran, including his ex-wife, told CNN that he was once a familiar face at 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 appears that this was targeted,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon told CNN. “Clearly he knew where he was going and was familiar with both places.”
Mayor Law 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, to learn to dance,” he said. “We want to make sure that this dance hall continues to thrive and that people feel confident that they can socialize.”
The shooting at the Star ballroom dance studio happened around 10:22 p.m. on Saturday. The gunman fired 42 rounds from a semi-automatic handgun into 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 crowd of civilians, the sheriff said.
Monterey Park officers were at the studio within three to four minutes, arriving at the scene of a “carnage” as people lay injured and others poured out of the venue, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Weese said.
About 20 minutes after the shooting, the suspect — still armed — showed up at a second dance studio in nearby Alhambra. There, a 26-year-old civilian accused him and snatched the gun from himsaving countless other lives, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday.
“I just had this rush of thoughts and adrenaline. I was able to come to the conclusion that I had to do something, I had to get the gun. I had to save myself and the people inside,” Tsai said.
The suspect fled and Tsai called police to the scene, where investigators traced the firearm to Tran, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case. The weapon was described as a MAC-10 9mm semi-automatic handgun with a high-capacity extended magazine, according to Luna, who added that the assault weapon appeared to have been modified.
California has prohibit the use of high-capacity magazines having more than 10 cartridges.
Less than a day later, Tran was found dead in a white van about 30 miles into Torrance when a SWAT team burst into the vehicle. The sheriff said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators also found a Norinco 7.62 x 25 handgun registered to the suspect in 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 look into 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 met the suspect said he he had a hot temper and a difficult temperament.
Ilie Bardahan, a dancer at Lai Lai Ballroom in the Alhambra, said Tran had a “very bad temper,” adding that “people say he was a bit of a psychopath in a way.”
“Very abrupt movement, push a little bit, dissatisfaction with certain, I don’t know, improvements of whatever students there was,” Bardahan said.
Adam Hood said he rented an apartment from Tran and had 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 was called “Andy.”
“His personality can be summed up in two words: mistrust – he trusted no one – and hatred. He could hate people to death. He took it to the extreme,” Hood said. “(He hated) anyone who thought he wasn’t nice to him. There were other dance instructors he didn’t like at both (dance studios).”
Hood added that Tran felt “the instructors weren’t nice to him, he thought they were talking bad about him. This was unfounded. 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 mind.”
Representative Judy Chu said the gunman who killed 11 on Saturday night “took them away from their families on what should have been a joyous night, the 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 national, and one of the victims, Alvero, was a US citizen of Filipino descent, according to the consulates of both countries in Los Angeles.
To Alvero the son told CNN he hoped to retire in about a year to return to the Philippines, and said his father spends his free time at the dance studio.
“He was dancing around the house,” Val Anthony Alvero said of his father. “He loved that sort of thing.”
Nhan, known as “Mimi,” loved to dance and spent many years at the dance studio where she was killed, according to a statement from her family.
Nan’s dance instructor, Maxim Kapitanchuk, told CNN she was a joy to have around.
“She was always smiling,” 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 the delight of the class, at every party, every class.
At Monday’s vigil, leaders described the shock and loss felt in the Monterey Park community.
“This hits too 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 with 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 let this killer defeat us,” former Assemblyman Mike Eng said at the vigil. “We will move forward with more enthusiasm and more love, because the only thing that defeats hate is love.”
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