Monterey Park, California shooting: 11 victims were between the ages of 57 and 76, coroner says



CNN

The 11 victims of the mass shooting at a Lunar New Year dance studio in Monterey Park, California, ranged in age from 57 to 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; Lilan Li, 63; MymyNhan, 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.

While investigators work to determine why, 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 Lo told CNN Monday night.

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The shooting on Saturday night occurred as the city’s largely Asian community celebrated 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 fear this type of situation where our joyful Lunar New Year celebration turned completely into tragedy and fear,” Rep. Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, said Monday at a candlelight vigil for the victims.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was meeting with shooting victims Monday when he was brought out to brief him on another fatal mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, the state’s second mass shooting in three days. “Tragedy after tragedy,” Newsom said in a tweet.

Authorities released new details Monday from their search of the home of Monterey Park shooting suspect Huu Can Tran, 72, 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 that led officials to believe he was “manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors,” the sheriff said. of Los Angeles County, Robert Luna.

Still, as investigators dig into the large amount of munitions they found, it’s unclear what prompted Saturday night’s attack on the Star Ballroom Dance Studio and later on the Lai Lai Ballroom.

“He planned this? Was it the day of? Was it the week before? Luna said at a press conference on Monday. “We do not know. But we intend to find out.

Three people who knew Tran, including his ex-wife, told CNN that he had once been a familiar face at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where he gave informal dance lessons. But it’s unclear how often she visited in recent years, if at all, and authorities are still investigating whether she knew any of the victims.

“There certainly is an appearance that this was targeted,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told CNN. “Clearly he knew where he was going and was familiar with both places.”

Mayor Lo said Tuesday that he hopes the ballroom can once again be 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 ballroom continues to thrive and that people feel safe to be able to socialize.”

The shooting at Star Ballroom Dance Studio happened around 10:22 p.m. Saturday. The gunman fired 42 rounds of ammunition from a semi-automatic pistol into the ballroom 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 he entered the dance studio and opened fire on the crowd of civilians, the sheriff said.

Monterey Park officers arrived at the studio in three to four minutes and arrived at a scene of “carnage” where people were injured and others were running from the scene, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese 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 attacked him and seized his gun, saving countless more 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 grab the gun. I needed to save myself and the people inside,” Tsay said.

The suspect fled and Tsay called police to the site, where investigators traced the firearm to Tran, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case. The weapon was described as a 9mm semi-automatic MAC-10 pistol with a high-capacity extended magazine, according to Luna, who added that the assault weapon appears to have been modified.

California has prohibited the use of high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Less than a day later, Tran was found dead inside a white pickup truck about 30 miles away in Torrance when a SWAT team surrounded the vehicle. The sheriff said he died after a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators also recovered a Norinco 7.62 x 25 pistol registered to the suspect inside the truck, Luna said.

Ballistics and forensic comparisons will need to be performed on all items recovered from the suspected shooter’s home, as authorities also investigate Tran’s background.

So far, the sheriff has said the suspect had a “limited criminal record,” highlighting a 1990 arrest for illegal possession of a firearm.

Those who knew the suspect said he had a short temper and a difficult temper.

Ilie Bardahan, a dancer at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, said Tran had a “very bad temper”, adding that “people say that in a sense he was a bit of a psycho”.

“A very abrupt move, pushing a little bit, not being satisfied with certain, I don’t know, improvements from the students that he had,” Bardahan said.

Adam Hood said he rented an apartment from Tran and had known him for 20 years, but they had a fight and haven’t seen each other for about 8 or 9 years. He said that Tran called himself “Andy.”

“His personality can be summed up in two words: mistrust -he didn’t trust anyone- and hate. He could hate people to death. He took it to the extreme,” Hood said. “(He hated) whoever he thought was not nice to him. There were other dance instructors she didn’t like in both (dance studios).”

Hood added that Tran thought “the instructors weren’t nice to him, he thought they were talking bad about him. That was unfounded. He was always unhappy with the studio people, he always complained about the studio heads and other instructors, not the students. It was all in his mind.”

A person prays the rosary at a makeshift memorial outside the scene of a deadly mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio on January 23, 2023 in Monterey Park, California.

Rep. Judy Chu said the gunman who killed 11 Saturday night “took them away from their families on a night that was supposed to be happy, 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 countries’ consulates in Los Angeles.

by alvero son told CNN that his father she hoped to retire in about a year to return to the Philippines, saying that her father spent his spare time in the dance studio.

“He was dancing all over the house,” Val Anthony Alvero said of his father. “He loved that kind of thing.”

Nhan, known as “Mymy,” loved to dance and spent many years in the dance studio where she was murdered, according to a statement from her family.

Nhan’s dance instructor, Maksym Kapitanchuk, told CNN that she was a joy to be around.

“She was always smiling,” Kapitanchuk said. “I don’t even think I’ve ever seen her without her smile, even through her mask I can see her eyes smiling at her. She was the delight of the class, of any party, of any class.

At Monday’s vigil, leaders described the shock and loss being felt in the Monterey Park community.

“This hit too close to home,” said Chun-Yen Chen, executive director of the Asia Pacific Community Fund.

On Saturday, the community members had been celebrating the Lunar New Year in the ballroom together with the 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 killer to defeat us,” former Assemblyman Mike Eng said at the vigil. “We will continue forward with more enthusiasm and more love, because the only thing that defeats hate is love.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Lilan Li’s given name.



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