California shooting: Monterey Park shooting suspect found dead after dance studio attack

The suspect in a mass shooting at a dance hall during Lunar New Year celebrations fatally shot himself in his van as officers closed in, Californian authorities have confirmed.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said on Sunday the man was found dead in the vehicle he used to flee the scene of an attempted second shooting.

The suspected gunman was identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran.

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Sheriff Luna said no other suspects are still at large and added that the motive remained unclear for the attack.

California police hunting the gunman who killed 10 people at a dance club during Lunar New Year celebrations broke into a van after a lengthy standoff Sunday, where images showed a body slumped in the driver's seat. The hunt began 12 hours earlier after a man -- described by police as Asian -- began firing at a club in Monterey Park, a city in Los Angeles County with a large Asian community.(Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

He did not have the exact ages of the victims but said they all appeared to be over 50. Seven of the wounded people remained in the hospital, Sheriff Luna said.

US Congresswoman Judy Chu, a California Democrat, said: “I still have questions in my mind, which is: What was the motive for this shooter? Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic violence abuser? How did he gets these gun and was it through legal means or not?”

Earlier on Sunday police surrounded the van with tactical vehicles and bomb squad trucks for hours before going in. A person’s body appeared to be slumped over the wheel and was later removed from the vehicle.

Sheriff Luna said the earlier shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park left five women and five men dead and wounded another 10 people.

Then 20 to 30 minutes later, a man with a gun entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra.

Authorities believe the two events are connected. They offered no details about a possible motive.

The suspect entered the Alhambra club with a gun, and people wrested the weapon away from him before he fled, Sheriff Luna said.

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He had previously released photos of an Asian man who was believed to be the suspect, but he did not release the man’s name.

The shooting sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities in the Los Angeles area and cast a shadow over Lunar New Year festivities around the country. Other cities sent extra officers to watch over the celebrations.

The massacre was the nation’s fifth mass killing this month.

Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people on the eastern edge of Los Angeles and is composed mostly of Asian immigrants from China or first-generation Asian Americans.

The shooting happened in the heart of the city centre where red lanterns decorated the streets for the Lunar New Year festivities. A police car was parked near a large banner that read “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”

The celebration in Monterey Park is one of California’s largest and had attracted tens of thousands of people throughout the day.

Two days of festivities, which have been attended by as many as 100,000 people in past years, were planned. But officials cancelled Sunday’s events following the shooting.

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Tony Lai, 35, of Monterey Park was stunned when he came out for his early morning walk to learn that the noises he had heard in the night were gunshots.

“I thought maybe it was fireworks. I thought maybe it had something to do with Lunar New Year,” he said. “And we don’t even get a lot of fireworks here. It’s weird to see this. It’s really safe here. We’re right in the middle of the city, but it’s really safe.”

The incident marked not just the fifth mass killing in the US since the start of the year but also the deadliest since May 24, when 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the US.

The database also showed that 2022 was one of the nation’s worst years in terms of mass killings, with 42 such attacks — the second-highest number since the tracker was created in 2006.

The White House said US president Joe Biden had been briefed on the situation by homeland security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

Meanwhile, authorities in Louisiana said 12 people had been injured in a shooting at a nightclub in Baton Rouge early on Sunday.

One of the victims was in a critical condition, while the rest were listed as stable, police said. No arrests had been made.

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The shooting occurred inside the Dior Bar and Lounge at around 1.30am, police spokesman Sergeant L’Jean McKneely Jr said.

Although the motive for the shootings was unknown, Mr McKneely said the police department did have leads.