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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9:10 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Gunman had been a regular patron at dance hall he attacked, according to people who knew him

From CNN’s Jeff Winter, Casey Tolan and Scott Glover

An aerial view of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on January 22 in Monterey Park, California.
An aerial view of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on January 22 in Monterey Park, California. (Kirby Lee/AP)

The man who fatally shot 10 people in a Southern California dance studio had once been a regular presence at the venue, even meeting his ex-wife there, three people who knew him told CNN.

Police say Huu Can Tran, 72, opened fire at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park, on Saturday night, before fatally shooting himself after a manhunt across the region on Sunday.

His ex-wife said in an interview that she had met Tran about two decades ago at the dance studio, a popular community gathering place where he gave informal lessons. Tran saw her at a dance, introduced himself, and offered her free lessons, she said.

The two married soon after they met, according to the ex-wife, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the case. While Tran was never violent to her, she said he could be quick to anger. For example, she said, if she missed a step dancing he would become upset because he felt it made him look bad. She said that after several years together, she got the impression that he had lost interest in her. Her sister, who also asked not to be named, confirmed her account. 

It was unclear how frequently Tran visited the dance hall, if at all, in recent years.

Tran filed for divorce in late 2005, and a judge approved the divorce the following year, Los Angeles court records show. 

Tran was an immigrant from China, according to a copy of his marriage license that his ex-wife showed to CNN.

A 5-minute drive from his home: Another long-time acquaintance of Tran’s also remembered him as a frequent presence at the dance studio. The friend, who also asked not to be named, was close to Tran in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when he said Tran would make the roughly 5-minute drive from his home in San Gabriel to Star Ballroom Dance Studio “almost every night.”

Tran often complained at the time that the instructors at the dance hall didn’t like him and said “evil things about him,” the friend remembered, adding that Tran was “hostile to a lot of people there.”

More generally, Tran was easily irritated, complained a lot, and didn’t seem to trust people, the friend said.

Tran at times worked as a truck driver, according to his ex-wife. 

Business records show that Tran registered a business called Tran’s Trucking Inc. in California in 2002. But he dissolved the firm about two years later, writing in a corporate filing that the it had never acquired any known assets or incurred any known debts or liabilities.

Bought a mobile home in Hemet: In 2013, Tran sold his San Gabriel home, which he had owned for more than two decades, property records show. 

Seven years later, records show, Tran bought a mobile home in a senior citizens community in Hemet, California, an outlying suburb about 85 miles east of Los Angeles. 

Tran’s friend said he hadn’t seen Tran in several years and was “totally shocked” when he heard about the shooting. 

“I know lots of people, and if they go to Star Studio, they frequent there,” the friend said, adding that he was “worried maybe I know some of” the shooting victims.
8:45 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

"They saved lives": Police chief praises heroes who disarmed suspect at a second location

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna takes questions from the media outside the Civic Center in Monterey Park, California, January 22.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna takes questions from the media outside the Civic Center in Monterey Park, California, January 22. (Kirby Lee/AP)

The suspect in the Monterey Park mass shooting was disarmed by two people when he went to a second location on Saturday night, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

Luna had earlier disclosed that a male Asian suspect had walked into a dance hall in Alhambra and that "some individuals wrestled the firearm away from him."

"Remember, the suspect went to the Alhambra location after he conducted the shooting (in Monterey Park), and he was disarmed by two community members who I consider to be heroes," Luna said at a news conference Sunday. 

"They saved lives. This could've been much worse. The weapon that we recovered at that second scene I am describing as a magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol. Not an assault rifle, but an assault pistol that had an extended large capacity magazine attached to it."
10:37 p.m. ET, January 22, 2023

Monterey Park's US representative: "We are resilient, and we are stronger together"

From CNN's Aaron Pellish

Rep. Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, praised local law enforcement and thanked those who reached out to her to offer support, including the White House and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Chu spoke at a news conference on Sunday evening after the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed a man found dead after a police standoff in Torrance was the same person suspected of carrying out a mass shooting in Monterey Park late Saturday. Chu thanked local law enforcement officials for their efforts in tracking the suspect.

“All this afternoon, the community was in fear,” Chu said.

Chu said she received calls from Mayorkas and from the White House, although she did not specify whether she spoke with President Joe Biden. Chu also said she spoke with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.

“I got calls today from the White House, from the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and from our mayor, Karen Bass,” Chu said. “All expressed concerns and offered their resources to us to make sure that we could end this terrible situation.”

Chu said the residents of Monterey Park, where she has lived for 37 years, are resilient and implored the community to “feel safe.”

“What I saw today, and what I see at this moment is indeed we are resilient, and we are stronger together,” Chu said.

11:55 p.m. ET, January 22, 2023

7 victims of Monterey Park mass shooting remain hospitalized

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

Seven people remain hospitalized after a gunman opened fire at a Monterey Park, California, dance studio, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna told reporters Sunday night.

Ten people were killed in the shooting, which happened near a Lunar New Year festival celebration.

Authorities have not released the names of any of those killed or injured in the mass shooting.

2:15 a.m. ET, January 23, 2023

Biden offers condolences to victims of "senseless attack"

From CNN's Jack Forrest and Aaron Pellish

Joe Biden speaks during an event in Washington, DC, on Friday, January 20.
Joe Biden speaks during an event in Washington, DC, on Friday, January 20.  (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the victims of a mass shooting in California that left 10 dead, while acknowledging the impact on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in a statement on Sunday.

“While there is still much we don’t know about the motive in this senseless attack, we do know that many families are grieving tonight, or praying that their loved one will recover from their wounds,” Biden said in the statement.
“Monterey Park is home to one of the largest AAPI communities in America, many of whom were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this weekend.”

Also on Sunday, Biden ordered flags flown at half-staff at the White House and other federal buildings until sunset on Thursday to honor the victims.

Read more here.