The shooter suspected of killing 11 people at a dance studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park appeared to have had no connections to the victims, the Los Angeles County Sheriff said in a press conference Wednesday night, as law enforcement searches for a motive behind Saturday’s mass shooting.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the suspect had not visited the location in nearly five years, despite reports suggesting he was a frequent visitor to the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.
The suspected shooter, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, did not appear to have any specific targets and police have not been able to “establish a connection between the suspect and any of the victims thus far,” Luna said.
The investigators found that Tran had parked a motorcycle near the dance studio before the shooting, leading them to believe it was put there as an “alternative getaway vehicle.”
Apart from the MAC-10-style “semiautomatic assault pistol” used in the mass shooting and the handgun that Tran used to take his own life, police found a third weapon owned by the suspect in his home—a registered bolt-action rifle.
Responding to reports about a possible romantic relationship between Luna and one of the victims, the sheriff noted that Tran was not married and they have not been able to “tie him in, romantically, to any of the victims so far.”
“We’re looking at everything…with the goal of trying to find a motive and hopefully we can,” Luna said when asked about any potential motives behind the shooting. “Sometimes it’s frustrating when something like this happens that’s so tragic because we’re trying to understand it. And it doesn’t make sense, it really doesn’t.”
Monterey Park officers were criticized for waiting for five hours before notifying the public that the shooter was still at large. Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese, who was sworn into office just last week, defended his decision to delay the public warning, saying they were still piecing together the details about the shooting and did not want to broadcast the wrong information. Speaking to the Associated Press, Wiese said police were speaking to around 40 witnesses of the shooting, many of whom did not speak English. Wiese also noted that Monterey Park had a large Asian-American population and he did not want his officers to go “door to door waking people up and telling them that we’re looking for a male Asian in Monterey Park.” In another interview with local CBS affiliate KCAL, Wiese said “the community was safe” as there were hundreds of officers out there looking for the suspect after the shooting. He added police did not have a mechanism for alerting the sleeping public about a shooter on the loose at 1.00 a.m. in the morning.
The shooting took place at Star Dance Studio at around 10.30 pm on Saturday night. Police found 10 people dead at the scene and an eleventh person died a day later in hospital. Nine others were also injured. After the shooting, the gunman tried to enter another dance studio in the neighboring suburb of Alhambra with what police believe was an intention to kill more people. But the 72-year-old suspect fled the spot after he was disarmed by 26-year-old Brandon Tsay at the entrance of the venue. Tran and his white van were eventually located by police in the city of Torrance—about 20 miles from Monterey Park—where he fatally shot himself. It is the country’s worst mass shooting of the year so far.
Sheriff: Gunman who killed 11 didn’t know dance hall victims (Associated Press)
What We Know About The Victims Of The Monterey Park Mass Shooting (Forbes)
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