The California gunman who gunned down 11 people at a dance hall in Monterey Park went to a police station weeks before the rampage to report decades-old poisoning allegations against his family.
Huu Can Tran, 72, walked into a Hemet police station on January 7 and 9, ‘alleging past fraud, theft, and poisoning allegations involving his family in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago,’ the Hemet Police Department revealed on Monday.
Tran told police that he would return to the station with documentation of his claims, but he never went back, police said.
Instead, the former dance instructor showed up at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Saturday night and fired 42 rounds into a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year, killing 11 people and injuring nine. The 11th victim died on Monday.
Investigators still don’t have a motive in the largest mass shooting in Los Angeles County history, but at a press conference on Monday, it was revealed that a search of the suspected gunman’s home uncovered a rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and evidence that he was manufacturing gun silencers.
Huu Can Tran, 72, walked into a Hemet police station on January 7 and 9, ‘alleging past fraud, theft, and poisoning allegations involving his family in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago’
Tran told police at the Hemet Police that he would return to the station with documentation of his claims, but he never went back. Instead, he gunned down 11 people on Saturday
Tran lived in The Lakes at Hemet West, a gated senior-living community in the town of Hemet where police turned up a .308 caliber rifle, various electronic devices and items ‘that lead us to believe the suspect was manufacturing homemade’ weapons silencers
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said investigators recovered 42 shell casings from the dance studio and a large-capacity ammunition magazine.
He said the search of the suspect’s mobile home in a gated senior living community in the town of Hemet, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, turned up a .308 caliber rifle, various electronic devices, and items ‘that lead us to believe the suspect was manufacturing homemade’ weapons silencers.
Police also seized hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the dwelling, Luna said.
Following the first shooting, Tran barged into another dance hall about 20 minutes later in the neighboring community of Alhambra, where he was disarmed by an employee and fled that scene, triggering an overnight manhunt.
Luna credited the owner of the dance hall with disarming the would-be shooter.
‘He’s the hero that disarmed the suspect,’ Luna said. ‘What a brave man he is.’
Luna said the gun used in the first attack was a semi-automatic 9 mm MAC-10, which is a civilian type of pistol based on a fully automatic military-use submachine gun.
He did not disclose the capacity of the magazine attached, although under California law a ‘large-capacity magazine’ is defined as one that holds more than 10 rounds.
The shooter used a second gun to kill himself after fleeing the ballroom. Luna said that one was a Norinco 7.62 x 25mm handgun.
Investigators also found a .308-caliber rifle at the shooter’s home, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Officials said they were still investigating how and when Tran obtained the weapons. Luna said the Norinco handgun was registered to the shooter.
Tran sed a Norinco 7.62 x 25mm handgun to kill himself after gunning down 11 people
The search for the gunman ended on Sunday morning when the suspect shot himself as police officer surrounded his cargo van in a parking lot in Torrance, south of Los Angeles
After the Monterey Park shooting, the gunman then entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra. But patrons wrestled the weapon away from him and he fled
The search for the gunman ended on Sunday morning when the suspect shot himself as police officer surrounded his cargo van in a parking lot in Torrance, south of Los Angeles.
A Norinco 9 mm handgun was found inside the van, police said.
Luna told a news briefing on Monday that Tran had a ‘limited’ past criminal history, including a 1990 arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Hemet police said in a statement on Monday that Tran had come to the department twice in early January alleging ‘past fraud, theft and poisoning allegations involving his family’ dating back 10 to 20 years.
Tran had said he would return with documentation regarding his claims but never did, the police statement said.
Tran had an active trucking license and had owned a company called Tran’s Trucking Inc with a post office box address in Monterey Park, according to online records. He had lived in the Los Angeles area since at least the 1990s and moved to the mobile home in Hemet in 2020, address records showed.
A neighbor in his gated community described him as ‘meek’ in an interview Monday.
But Adam Hood, a longtime tenant of the alleged gunman at a property in the Los Angeles area, told Reuters he had known Tran to be an aggressive and suspicious person with few friends. Tran had liked ballroom dancing, largely his only social activity, Hood said.
Hood said Tran complained that people at the Star Ballroom studio were talking behind his back.
‘He was a good dancer in my opinion,’ Hood said. ‘But he was distrustful of the people at the studio, angry and distrustful. I think he just had enough.’
Neighbors said tran complained that people at the Star Ballroom were talking behind his back
Tran gunned down 11 people at the Star Ballroom and then opened fire at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio dance school nearby but his attack was thwarted
How the massacre and manhunt unfolded
Saturday, 10.22pm: Gunshots ring out in Star Ballroom Dance Studio
10.29pm: 911 responders receive a call about a shooting in Monterey Park
10.33pm: Police and rescue units start to arrive at the scene
10.38pm: Officers say the studio has been ‘cleared’ and there are initially an estimated 10 unresponsive victims and two more in critical condition
10.39pm: Tran enters a second dance hall studio, the Lai Lai ballroom in Alhambra. His weapon is wrestled away from him
Sunday: Gunman reportedly enters a local hospital at an unspecified time with apparent fight injuries. He leaves ER before being treated
10.20am: Police locate white cargo van seen leaving scene of shooting
11.15am: White van in shopping center parking lot is surrounded by police and SWAT
12.30pm: Sheriff’s office say the suspect has barricaded himself in the van
1pm: Police enter the vehicle after Tran shot himself dead. Evidence linking him to the shootings is found in the vehicle
The death toll rose to 11 Monday after health officials announced that one of the 10 people wounded had died, the LA County Department of Health Services said.
Officials did not disclose any information about the 11th fatality, but all except one of the others were 60 or older, according to information released Monday by the Los Angeles coroner’s office providing the first identifications.
My Nhan, 65, Lilian Li, 63, and Xiujuan Yu, 57, were the three women named. Two other women were in their 60s, and one was in her 70s. Valentino Alvero, 68, was the only man identified. Three men in their 70s and one in his 60s were also killed.
Nhan’s family said in a statement that she was a loving person whose kindness was contagious, and was a regular at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.
‘It’s what she loved to do. But unfairly, Saturday was her last dance,’ the family said. ‘We are starting the Lunar New Year broken. We never imagined her life would end so suddenly.’
The Chinese consulate-general in Los Angeles released a statement posted on Monday that at least one Chinese national was among the 11 people killed.
The statement ‘expressed condolences to local Chinese American communities’ and ‘will work with authorities in both China and the United States to deal with the aftermath.’
The New York Times reported on Monday that a 73-year-old woman who was wounded in the Monterey Park shooting and had been admitted to the hospital was discharged on Monday afternoon, according to Jorge Orozco, the chief executive of LAC+USC Medical Center.
‘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,’ he said.
Los Angeles Superior Court records show he was married in 2001 and divorced five years later, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple did not have children, said they had no community property and neither side had to pay alimony.
In the uncontested case, Tran noted in a filing that he could not get away from work to attend any court hearings, though he did not disclose where he worked or what he did.
His ex-wife told CNN that they married soon after they met at the dance hall. While she is named in court papers, she asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case.
She said he would become upset if she missed a step dancing, but was never violent toward her.
Tran eventually moved from the San Gabriel Valley, a melting pot for Asian immigrants, and settled in Hemet, a low-income community of many retirees 75 miles east of Los Angeles in Riverside County.
Tran lived in The Lakes at Hemet West, a gated community off a busy road with a view of snow-covered mountains. The development boasts amenities including a 9-hole golf course, a shuffleboard court, and a dance floor. Properties listed for sale ranged from $45,000 to $222,000.
Hemet police had no records of any incidents involving Tran in the community or calls for service at his home, Reyes said.
The shootings during Lunar New Year celebrations sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities and cast a shadow over festivities nationwide.
The massacre was the nation’s fifth mass killing this month, and it struck one of California’s largest celebrations of a holiday observed in many Asian cultures, dealing another blow to a community that has been the target of high-profile violence in recent years.
The shootings during Lunar New Year celebrations sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities and cast a shadow over festivities nationwide
Sunday Lunar New Year celebrations around the area of the mass shooting were canceled
It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
‘We do understand that he may have had a history of visiting this dance hall and perhaps the motivation has to do with some personal relationships. But that’s something that I think investigators are still uncovering and investigating,’ said Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo. Public records show Tran once had addresses in the city and neighboring ones.
The mayor and LA County Sheriff Robert Luna stressed that the motive for the attack remained unclear. No other suspect was wanted, according to the sheriff.
The suspect was carrying a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where Tran died, Luna said.
California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the United States, the country with the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world.
The state bans many kinds of guns that are legal in other states, and obtaining a required California gun license is relatively difficult. However, a California resident intent on breaking the law can illegally obtain banned weapons from parts of the country where guns are sold more freely.
Semi-automatic pistols are the most widely carried guns in the country, and some kinds are legal in California. But the state bans what it defines as ‘assault weapons,’ which is determined by the gun’s features and includes semiautomatic MAC-10 guns. A Californian can continue to legally possess an assault weapon that was legally owned and registered before the 1990s or early 2000s, depending on the type.
The assault weapons ban was ruled unconstitutional and thrown out by a federal judge in 2021 but remains in effect while legal appeals are heard.
California also bans the buying and selling of large-capacity magazines, although a Californian can legally continue to possess any large-capacity magazine he or she obtained before Jan. 1, 2000.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Americans have a fundamental right to have weapons, including many kinds of guns, at home and, in a landmark ruling last year, in public for self-defense under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment ‘right to keep and bear arms.’