January 23, 2023 Monterey Park mass shooting news

By Nectar Gan, Leinz Vales, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 4:05 a.m. ET, January 24, 2023
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9:44 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Brandon Tsay details 40-second altercation that ended with him disarming the gunman

From CNN's Amir Vera

Brandon Tsay speaks with CNN's Anderson Cooper about the Monterey Park shooting on Monday, January 23, 2023.
Brandon Tsay speaks with CNN's Anderson Cooper about the Monterey Park shooting on Monday, January 23, 2023. CNN

Brandon Tsay, the man who disarmed Monterey Park suspect Huu Can Tran, said he had never held a gun prior to his altercation on Saturday.

No, I've never held a gun before. It is scary ... the weight of the gun, it dawned on me how this object was something that could end a person's life," Tsay told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday.

Tran, who was pronounced dead Sunday following a self-inflicted gunshot wound, is suspected of killing 11 people and wounding nine others in a shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park, California on Saturday.

Following the massacre, the 72-year-old gunman walked into the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in nearby Alhambra, California — a moment Tsay said initially made him freeze up.

"He had a gun pointed at me. It seemed like he was trying to scout out the room for other people," Tsay said. "He didn't say anything at all, he was silent, even stoic, very scary that he wasn’t even saying anything or giving me any instructions."

When it seemed like the gunman was preparing to fire his weapon, Tsay said he sprang into action.

I realized in the moment that I needed to do something ... I needed to grab the gun, try to disarm him so he couldn’t do any harm to me or others," Tsay said.

Realizing the gunman was distracted, Tsay said he lunged at him with both arms and grabbed his weapon.

"I would say the struggle lasted 40 seconds," Tsay said. "But it felt like way longer, it felt like an eternity with the adrenaline and my thoughts."

Tsay said he was able to yank the gun away, then pointed the weapon at the gunman and told him to leave, threatening to shoot him.

"I thought I would actually have to kill him," Tsay said. "Yes, I was prepared to fire but I didn't want to shoot him anywhere that would be fatal. I wanted to see if I could aim at the legs over the arms. Something that would stop him from trying to cover the gun."

Asked if he ever thought he was capable of shooting someone, Tsay said:

"If I was to view my past experiences, it seems like I would have more of a flight response, to run away. But now that I see that in this situation, my character and my mentality is totally different," he said.

Tsay has been hailed as a hero for his actions.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted a picture of his meeting with Tsay simply saying: "This is what a hero looks like."

Tsay said he understands the responsibility of the word "hero."

"I'm glad that people can look toward me and see this person, he was able to survive this situation. Maybe there's hope for others," he said.
8:26 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Officials shared new details in its shooting investigation. Here's what we know now

From CNN staff

Officials are still investigating many of the details of the mass shooting Saturday that left 11 people dead in Monterey Park, California.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna and several other officials provided updates Monday while acknowledging they still don't have a motive for the rampage at a dance studio.

What we know so far is that the 72-year-old gunman walked into Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the Los Angeles neighborhood and opened fire shortly after a Lunar New Year celebration. The man then drove to a second dance hall in neighboring Alhambra where he entered with a firearm but fled after being disarmed, officials said.

The gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Sunday when his vehicle was approached by police officers.

Here's what else we learned:

  • The victims: Four of the 11 victims have been named so far. They are Xiujuan Yu, a 57-year-old woman, Valentino Alvero, a 68-year-old man, Mymy Nhan, a 65-year-old woman, and Lilan Li, a 63-year-old woman the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said. Officials said they are still working to notify the families of the other victims before identifying them.
  • The scene at the dance studio: The gunman fired 42 rounds of ammunition from a high-capacity handgun at the dance hall in Monterey Park, according to Luna. The sheriff said officials believe one person was shot outside of the studio in a vehicle before the gunman continued his rampage inside. Luna said they are "still putting it all together," including determining if the shooting was planned.
  • Search of the suspect's home: Investigators found a "few items of interest" at the shooter's mobile home — some of which led officials to believe he was "manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors," Luna said. Officials also found "hundreds of rounds of ammunition." The items, which now need to be thoroughly tested, according to the sheriff, were gathered from a search warrant that was executed earlier Monday.
  • No motive yet: The gunman's motive is still unknown, several officials said. The suspect had a "limited criminal history," according to the sheriff, noting an arrest in 1990 for unlawful possession of a firearm. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said he believes the shooting seems to have been targeted, pointing to the fact that the gunman was "very familiar" with the dance studio where the shooting took place. People who knew the gunman told CNN that he used to go to the studio frequently.
  • Mass shootings in America: There have been 36 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2023. That's more than there have been at this point in any year on record. The shooting in Monterey Park was the deadliest attack since the Uvalde massacre in May 2022.
9:08 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

At least one Chinese citizen killed in Monterey Park mass shooting, consulate says

From CNN’s Beijing Bureau

People leave flowers and candles at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California for the victims of the mass shooting on Monday.
People leave flowers and candles at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California for the victims of the mass shooting on Monday. (David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News/Getty Images)

At least one Chinese citizen was killed in the Monterey Park mass shooting on Saturday, the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles said in a statement.

The statement didn’t specify how many Chinese citizens were among the 11 victims. 

“The serious shooting incident in the Chinese community is shocking and deeply regrettable,” the Chinese Consulate said in the statement. The Chinese embassy and consulates in the US were ordered to lower their flags to half-staff.

The consulate also reminded Chinese citizens in its consular district to “raise risk awareness, strengthen security precautions, and ensure their own safety," according to the statement.

7:54 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

73-year-old woman injured in shooting discharged from hospital

From CNN's Taylor Romine

A 73-year-old woman who was injured in Saturday's mass shooting in Monterey Park has been released from LAC+USC Medical Center, a statement from Chief Executive Officer Jorge Orozco said. 

Our teams continue to work around the clock to care for the remaining two victims receiving treatment at LAC+USC, and we remain hopeful for their recoveries," Orozco said.

The medical center announced Monday afternoon one of the four patients they were caring for died from their injuries

7:37 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

"The light of the class": Mymy Nhan's instructor remembers her energy on the dance floor

Mymy Nhan, who was killed in the mass shooting in Monterey Park, had a constant smile on her face and was “the light” of any dance class. That is how Maksym Kapitanchuk, Nhan’s dance instructor, is remembering her.

“I don't even think I've ever seen her without her smile, even through the mask I can see her eyes smiling. She'd been the light of the class, of any party, any class,” he told CNN on Monday.

He said he met Nhan in 2010. She became one of his first students and helped him start his dance teaching career.

As loved ones remember not just Nhan, but all 11 victims killed in the shooting, Kapitanchuk said he knows people will come together, describing the network of dancers as an “incredibly strong and positive community.” 

He said those who come to the studio were dedicated, even if they just take dance lessons as a hobby. He said he already has eight classes confirmed for Tuesday.

“This type of violence, it won't put them down. They're going to be fighting until the end. They're going to stay so positive.”

7:26 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Los Angeles County DA: Mass shooting seems to have been very targeted

The gunman was "very familiar" with the dance studio in Monterey Park where the shooting took place, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told CNN's Erin Burnett Monday.

"He has been part of that community, he met his ex-wife there," Gascón said on the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. "There is certainly the appearance that this was targeted."

As far as how the gunman was able to get a hold of weapons — one of which was a modified semi-automatic firearm — that are considered illegal in California, Gascón said he "has been a gun enthusiast for many years," so it is possible he acquired some of the weapons before they were illegal in California.

7:17 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

One victim was likely shot in vehicle outside dance studio before gunman entered, sheriff says

One victim was likely shot outside of Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park before the gunman went inside and continued shooting, ultimately killing 11 people, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

That person was killed in a vehicle, the sheriff said at a news conference Monday.

"We believe – and again I'd like to tell you this is exactly what happened but we are still putting it all together – we believe that that victim was probably shot before he started his rampage inside."

Luna said investigators are still looking at whether the gunman planned the shooting and what the motive was.

"We intend to find out," he said. "This is disturbing. How can you even come to reason that somebody would even think about doing something like this? It's horrendous."
7:26 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Gunman's motive still unknown in mass shooting, sheriff says

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, at podium, holds a press conference outside Monterey Park City Hall in Monterey Park on Sunday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, at podium, holds a press conference outside Monterey Park City Hall in Monterey Park on Sunday. (Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register/Getty Images)

The gunman's motive in Saturday's mass shooting is still unknown, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

"Did he plan this? Was it the day of? Was it the week before? What drove a mad man to do this? We don’t know," Luna said at a news conference Monday. "But we intend to find out. And we’re as curious as you are because it’s — I mean, this is disturbing… How can you even come to reason that somebody would even think about doing something like this? It’s horrendous," the sheriff said.

Luna said the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office are all assisting in the investigation.

Investigators did discover the gunman was attempting to manufacture "homemade firearm suppressors," Luna said, after they gathered items at his home after a search warrant was executed earlier Monday.

7:18 p.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Sheriff thanks "hero" for singlehandedly disarming gunman in Alhambra dance studio

Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna thanked Brandon Tsay for disarming a gunman who entered the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, California, following a mass shooting in Monterey Park Saturday night.

Luna also clarified that Tsay was the only person that was involved in disarming the gunman. Initially, authorities said that two people were involved.

"I'd like to take a second to also thank Mr. Brandon Tsay, for his heroic action which save countless lives. He's the hero, that disarmed the suspect at the Alhambra location. And in my opinion, he saved many of lives," Luna said during a news conference Monday.

He added, "There was actually only one person who disarmed. But as you know we were trying to put out information that was preliminary. So there was one, that's his name. And what a brave man he is."