11th Monterey Park shooting victim dies; motive still unclear

23 January 2023

(KTLA) – Another victim of Saturday night’s shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California has died, bringing the death toll to 11, officials confirmed Monday afternoon.

The victim, whose name was not released, died at LAC+USC Medical Center where four of the 10 people who initially survived the shooting were transported.

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“Our heroic staff at LAC+USC Medical Center have worked tirelessly to care for the four victims entrusted to our care,” hospital officials said in a news release. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we are saddened to share that one of the victims has succumbed to their extensive injuries. We want to express our deepest sympathies to their families and loved ones.”

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner on Monday identified two of the victims as My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 64. Nhan’s niece posted an emotional tribute on Twitter.

“She spent so many years going to the dance studio in Monterey Park on weekends. It’s what she loved to do. But unfairly, Saturday was her last dance,” said Tiffany Liou. “We are starting the Lunar New Year broken. We never imagined her life would end so suddenly.”

Authorities continue to search for a motive behind the mass shooting that marred Lunar New Year celebrations in the predominately Asian community just east of downtown Los Angeles.

The gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran of Hemet, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a standoff with law enforcement roughly 25 miles from the scene.

Twenty to 30 minutes after the Monterey Park shooting, authorities say Tran entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra armed with what officials described as a magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol that had an extended, large capacity magazine attached to it.

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“I can tell you that the suspect walked in there probably with the intent to kill more people and two brave community members decided they were going to jump into action and disarm him,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. “They did so, took possession of the weapon and the suspect ran away.”

An hourslong manhunt led officers to a white van in Torrance, about 25 miles southwest of Monterey Park. Late Sunday morning, police in tactical vehicles and bomb-squad trucks surrounded the van in a parking lot.

Tran was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the vehicle.

During the manhunt, authorities released photos of Tran, which showed him wearing a distinctive wool cap.

Luna said that there are no outstanding suspects, though the investigation remains ongoing while detectives attempt to determine a motive.

Late Sunday, law enforcement officers and federal agents served a search warrant at Tran’s mobile home in Hemet, roughly 85 miles southeast of Monterey Park. It’s unclear what, if anything, authorities found.

The Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park is one of the largest Lunar New Year events in Southern California. Two days of festivities were planned but officials canceled Sunday’s events following the shooting. Other Lunar New Year events, including one at the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena and another at the Citadel Outlets, were also canceled. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned the violence and visited the community Sunday evening.

“Spent time in Monterey Park today meeting with leaders and those impacted by this terrible tragedy. The strength of this community is incredible,” Newsom tweeted. “No other country in the world is terrorized by this constant stream of gun violence. We need real gun reform at a national level.”

President Joe Biden ordered flags at all government buildings to fly at half-staff until sunset on Thursday to honor the victims of the tragedy.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents Monterey Park and was at the festival Saturday, noted the city’s “significance as having one of the largest percentages of Asian American and Pacific Islander residents in the United States.”

Officers surround a white van following the search for 72-year-old Huu Can Tran on Jan. 22, 2023. (KTLA)

“For decades, the city has elevated the cultures and histories of AAPIs in this country – breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes along the way,” she wrote on Twitter. “As we await to see if this is a hate crime, we must continue the work of protecting our communities and keeping them safe.”

The tragedy marked not just the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year but is also the deadliest since May 24, 2022, when 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.

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