Sheriff: No Connection Between Suspect, Victims in Monterey Park Shooting


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MONTEREY PARK (CNS) - Interviews conducted by investigators of the mass shooting that killed 11 people at a Monterey Park dance studio "have not been able to establish a connection between the suspect and any of the victims," Sheriff Robert Luna said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

Luna said suspect Huu Can Tran was in possession of three firearms during the shooting, with two registered in California. The other firearm, a semiautomatic MAC-10, was purchased in California in 1999, but was not registered and Tran used it to commit the killings, Luna said.

A motorcycle registered to Tran was discovered by law enforcement officers Wednesday in the 200 block of Garfield Avenue in Monterey Park, "one block from the crime scene," Luna said at the news conference at the Hall of Justice.

Homicide investigators determined that the motorcycle was parked at that location at an undisclosed time on Saturday by Tran "as an alternative getaway vehicle," Luna said.

Investigators have not determined a romantic connection between the suspect or any of the victims, according to Luna.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Monterey Park Wednesday to meet with the families of the victims killed inside the dance studio after a day of celebration in Monterey Park for the Lunar New Year, while also calling on Congress to enact "reasonable" gun-control measures.

Harris arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 4:30 p.m. and was greeted by officials including Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Luna. She then rode in a motorcade to Monterey Park, where she placed flowers at a growing memorial outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where Saturday night's shooting occurred.

Speaking to reporters outside the dance studio, Harris decried a spate of multiple-victim shootings in the nation since the beginning of the year and said while it's important to support victims, "we must also require that leaders in our nation who have the ability and the power and the responsibility to do something, that they act."

"California has been courageous as a leader on the issue of smart gun- safety laws, but we also need Congress to act," she said, adding that the nation needs a "uniform approach" that protects 2nd Amendment rights but includes "reasonable" gun laws.

After spending eight minutes at the ballroom memorial, Harris left for the Langley Senior Center where she spent more than two hours meeting with families of six of the victims and first responders, an aide said.

A vigil -- the third in three nights in the city -- was also held Wednesday night outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. The vigil was organized by the group Compassion in SGV, and follows vigils on Monday and Tuesday nights outside Monterey Park City Hall.

Meanwhile, investigators continued pouring over evidence as they tried to determine what led a 72-year-old man to gun down 11 people and wound nine others Saturday night in the deadliest mass shooting in Los Angeles County history.

Ten people died at the scene of the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue, near Garfield Avenue. An 11th victim later died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

The coroner's office on Tuesday identified all of the victims as:

-- My Nhan, 65;

-- Lilian Li, 63;

-- Xiujuan Yu, 57;

-- Muoi Ung, 67;

-- Hong Jian, 62;

-- Yu Kao, 72;

-- Chia Yau, 76;

-- Valentino Alvero, 68;

-- Wen Yu, 64;

-- Ming Ma, 72; and

-- Diana Tom, 70.

Ming Ma was a popular instructor and owner at the dance studio, friends said.

Tran, 72, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a white van that was stopped by Torrance police Sunday afternoon. A handgun was recovered from the van, along with other potential evidence linking him to the killings at the dance studio, Luna said.

There were some initial reports, citing law enforcement sources, that the man had been looking for his wife or partner at the studio. But a longtime acquaintance of the suspect told KNX Newsradio that the man was known for his temper, suggesting he may have acted out against specific people with whom he had lingering personal grudges.

Some media reports also suggested the gunman was targeting specific people, possibly explaining why he went to a second dance studio in Alhambra after the initial shooting, searching for more people he wanted to target.

Police in the Riverside County community of Hemet, where Tran lived, said Monday he went to the Hemet Police Department twice in early January "alleging past fraud, theft, and poisoning allegations involving his family in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago. Tran stated he would return to the station with documentation regarding his allegations but never returned."

Investigators searched Tran's Hemet home Sunday night. Luna said among the items found at the home were a .308-caliber rifle, hundreds of rounds of .308-caliber and 9mm ammunition and "items that lead us to believe the suspect was manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors," or silencers.

Luna said investigators recovered 42 shell casings inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, indicating the number of shots that were fired at the scene of the massacre that occurred at 10:22 p.m. Saturday. A large-capacity magazine was also recovered.

Luna confirmed that one of the victims -- possibly Nhan -- was shot outside the dance studio and was found inside a vehicle. Luna said that person was likely shot before the suspect went into the studio.

Luna described the weapon used in the killings as a "magazine-fed semi-automatic assault pistol."

About 17 minutes after the Monterey Park attack, Tran entered the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in the 100 block of South Garfield Avenue in neighboring Alhambra.

Luna speculated that Tran was going to try to kill more people there, but 26-year-old employee Brandon Tsay, whose family runs the studio, confronted Tran and wrestled away his gun, prompting him to leave.

The weapon that was taken from Tran in Alhambra was a 9mm semiautomatic MAC-10 assault weapon, Luna said.

On Sunday afternoon, more than 12 hours after the shooting, Torrance police located a white van matching the suspect's vehicle near Sepulveda and Hawthorne boulevards and attempted a traffic stop. The van entered the parking lot of a strip mall around the corner from Del Amo Fashion Center. When officers approached, they heard a single gunshot fired from within the vehicle.

Police then maneuvered two BearCat SWAT vehicles on each end of the van, butting up against it, while several police vehicles parked nearby for additional support.

Authorities made entry into the van shortly before 1 p.m. and found a man slumped in the driver's seat, dead from a gunshot wound. Luna said there was no initial evidence of any law enforcement official firing a weapon. He said the driver in the van was Tran.

On Monday, Luna said a handgun was recovered inside the van, along with "clothing that the suspect wore during the commission" of the Monterey Park shooting.

Saturday's mass shooting was the deadliest shooting in the United States since the massacre in Uvalde, Texas in May that left 22 dead, including the perpetrator.

Anyone with further information about the shooting was asked to call sheriff's homicide detectives at 323-890-5500 or leave anonymous tips on the Crime Stoppers line at 800-222-8477.

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