Monterey Park: Suspected gunman found dead in van after 10 killed in California shooting

The man suspected of killing 10 people in a mass shooting at a ballroom dance club in California has been found dead inside a van.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the man as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran and said no other suspects were at large. Speaking at an evening news conference, Luna said the motive for the attack remained unclear. Ten people were also wounded, seven of whom were still in the hospital.

Luna did not have the exact ages of the victims but said they all appeared to be over 50.

Suspected gunman Huu Can Tran (AP)
Suspected gunman Huu Can Tran (AP)

The sheriff added that the suspect was carrying what he described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where Tran was found dead. Tran is believed to have killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Five women and five men were killed and another 10 injured in the attack at the dance club during Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park on Saturday night.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said that officers arrived within three minutes of receiving the call. They found carnage inside the club and people trying to flee through all the doors.

“When they came into the parking lot, it was chaos,” Wiese said.

About 20 to 30 minutes after the first attack, the gunman entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra. But people there wrested the weapon away from him and he fled, according to Luna.

He said authorities began looking for a white van after witnesses reported seeing the suspect flee from Alhambra in such a vehicle.

California shooting at Monterey Park

Police use armored vehicles to surround a white cargo van at a parking lot in Torrance: (via REUTERS)
Police use armored vehicles to surround a white cargo van at a parking lot in Torrance: (via REUTERS)
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During the search, Luna released images from the second location of an Asian man who was believed to be the suspect, apparently from a surveillance camera.

The van was found in Torrance, another community that is home to many Asian Americans, about 22 miles (34.5 kilometers) from the site of the attempted second shooting.

Officers released an image of a suspect, wearing glasses and a winter hat. Police described him as an Asian man between the ages of 30 and 50.

By midday local time (8pm GMT), police in tactical vehicles and bomb-squad trucks surrounded a white van in a parking lot in Torrance, California, some 20 miles away.

Authorities had earlier said they were looking for a white van based on witnesses’ descriptions.

"We believe there is a person inside of that vehicle,” Sheriff Luna told reporters.

“We don’t know their condition, but we’re going to handle that in safest manner that we possibly can and try and identify that person. Could it be our suspect? Possibly,"

In response to a question, Luna said it was possible that the person barricaded in the van is dead.

Members of a SWAT team entered the van a short time later and looked through its contents before walking away.

A police officer walks near a scene where a shooting took place in Monterey Park (AP)
A police officer walks near a scene where a shooting took place in Monterey Park (AP)

Police previously said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at the Monterey Park ballroom around 10:30 pm Saturday.

Officers then went into the ballroom and found victims as firefighters treated the wounded.

The Lunar New Year celebration had attracted thousands.

Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people with a large Asian population about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from downtown Los Angeles.

Screenshot from a video shows emergency responders working at the scene of a shooting (VIA REUTERS)
Screenshot from a video shows emergency responders working at the scene of a shooting (VIA REUTERS)

Two days of festivities were planned but officials cancelled Sunday’s events following the shooting.

The tragedy marked the fifth mass shooting in the US this month and the deadliest since 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas.

The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.

Seung Won Choi, who owns the Clam House seafood barbecue restaurant across the street from where the shooting happened, told The Los Angeles Times that three people rushed into his business and told him to lock the door.

The people said to Choi that there was a shooter with a gun who had multiple rounds of ammunition on him.

Wong Wei, who lives nearby, told The Los Angeles Times that his friend was in a bathroom at the dance club that night when the shooting started.

When she came out, he said, she saw a gunman and three bodies.

The celebration in Monterey Park is one of the largest Lunar New Year events in Southern California.