10 Dead in Mass Shooting at Monterey Park Lunar New Year Celebrations

  • 10 people have died at a mass shooting at a Lunar New Year celebration in California, police have confirmed.
  • Monterey Park has a mostly Asian population, with 65.6% of people identifying as Asian, according to police data.
  • On Sunday, police engaged in a “barricaded suspect situation” with a white van in nearby Torrence.

Ten people were killed in a mass shooting during a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, on Saturday, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department told Insider.

“At least ten people have also been injured in the attack,” Captain Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday in a press conference. Seven people remained hospitalized as of Sunday night, officials confirmed.

The shooting is the fifth mass killing in the US in the month of January, according to the Associated Press.

The shooting happened at roughly 10 p.m. PST at a ballroom dance studio on Lunar New Year’s Eve. Meyer said at the press conference that people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when police arrived on Saturday night.

A local business owner, Seung Won Choi, told the LA Times three people who took refuge in his restaurant said they saw a gunman firing a semi-automatic weapon.

“The unimaginable happened in our community last evening and the City Council joins the community in expressing our shock and sadness regarding this horrible tragedy,” Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo said in a statement released Sunday. “We stand united together as we mourn, and our thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends during this difficult time.”

On Sunday at around noon, police engaged in a standoff with a parked “van of interest” in Torrance, a city south of Monterey Park, in what officials described as a SWAT operation involving a “barricaded suspect situation.”

Police initially said early Sunday morning that the shooter had fled the scene and was still at large. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna later said that the suspect was an adult Asian male at another press conference on Sunday and that witnesses described “a white cargo van” that was now a “van of interest.” Police published a photo of the suspect shortly before the standoff occurred.

The standoff ended at around 1:30 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Enforcement Bureau announced on Twitter.

Authorities confirmed in a press conference late Sunday that the suspect in the van was connected to the shooting in Monterey Park and an attempted shooting in Alhambra, where he had been disarmed by bystanders before fleeing on foot.

The suspect was identified by police as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound prior to being apprehended by law enforcement, police said.

Luna initially said that witnesses described “different weapons” and confirmed during the Sunday evening press conference that the suspect carried an unknown number of firearms, including a “magazine-fed semi-automatic assault pistol with an extended, large-capacity magazine” that he believed was not legal to carry in the state of California.

Police were not far enough into their investigation to determine if the crime is a hate crime, Meyer said at the press conference early Sunday. Luna indicated the suspect’s mental health history and any possible criminal record were still being investigated. It remains unclear whether he knew any of the victims, police said.

“We understand our community is looking for answers,” Mayor Lo said in a statement. “The safety of our residents is our priority and we remain committed in providing information as this investigation unfolds.”

Police also believe the suspect was connected to an incident that occurred Saturday night at a different ballroom, the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in nearby Alhambra, Luna said during a press conference. In that incident, a male Asian suspect walked into the dance hall with a firearm and “some individuals wrestled the firearm away from him and that individual took off,” Luna said, adding that a white cargo van was also reported at the scene.

Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez said on Twitter that she was “in a state of shock, heartbreak and devastation” over the shooting in Monterey Park.

Monterey Park’s Lunar New Year celebration events scheduled for Sunday were canceled in the wake of the shooting. Several planned celebrations at other cities around Southern California, including in Riverside and Westminster, continued as scheduled with extra security measures, The Orange County Register reported.

Monterey Park has a mostly Asian population, with 65.6% of people identifying as Asian, according to police data. Thousands of people had gathered in Monterey Park to welcome the Lunar New Year at the town’s annual festival which draws crowds of more than 100,000 people per day, according to the city’s website.

On Sunday afternoon, President Joe Biden released a statement expressing his condolences for the “senseless attack” on the community.

“Even as we continue searching for answers about this attack, we know how deeply this attack has impacted the AAPI community,” Biden’s statement said, adding that federal agents are assisting local authorities in the ongoing investigation. “As we await more crucial information from law enforcement, I want to assure the community of Monterey Park and the broader area that we will support you in every way we can.”

Speaking at the event earlier in the day, US Representative Judy Chu said how important it was for the Asian-American community to gather after a particularly difficult few years.

“Just like the rabbit, when we face obstacles, we will continue to run,” Chu said. “Nothing will stop us as we look towards a better future.”

This story has been updated.

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