Huu Can Tran, Monterey Park Shooting Suspect: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

huu can tran

Twitter (KTLA)/LA Co Sheriff Huu Can Tran

Huu Can Tran was the 72-year-old mass shooting suspect who killed at least 11 people in a Monterey Park, California, ballroom dance studio during a Lunar New Year festival celebration on Saturday, January 21, 2023, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said at a news conference.

Corporation records obtained by Heavy through the State of California showed that Tran once registered a corporation called Tran’s Trucking Inc. Its registration terminated two years later. He was living in San Gabriel, California, at the time, according to the 2002 filing.

His ex-wife and friends told CNN Tran used to frequent the Star Ballroom Dance Studio where the mass shooting occurred and described him as quick to anger and irritable.

The mass shooting happened at approximately 10:22 p.m. on January 21, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. According to CNN, the mass shooting occurred “near a Lunar New Year festival celebration” in the Chinese community. The news release gave the location as the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park.

The Sheriff’s Department released the suspect’s photo, identifying him as an Asian male.

Luna said at the news conference the morning of Sunday, January 22, that the male suspect “fled the scene and remains outstanding at this moment.” He said authorities initially received different descriptions of the same suspect from witnesses.

However, in a later news conference on Sunday, Luna named the shooter as Tran and said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after police surrounded his white cargo van in Torrance, California. At 10:20 a.m. on January 22, Torrance police officers spotted the van, Luna said. The van entered a shopping center, and officers then heard a single gunshot come from inside the van, Luna said. Tran is from Hemet, a city in Riverside County, California, according to The Los Angeles Times.

At 12:52 p.m., the sheriff’s SWAT team cleared the van and determined the suspect “sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Luna said, adding that authorities confirmed the suspect was the mass shooter. A handgun was discovered inside the van, according to the sheriff.

Asked whether the mass shooting was a hate crime, Luna said earlier in the day, “Everything is on the table.” He said he did not know if the mass shooting was a hate crime as defined by law. In the later Sunday news conference, though, the sheriff said the motive is still under investigation.

“We still are not clear on the motive,” Luna said. “We want to know.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the mass shooting was “one of the worst in modern Los Angeles County history.”

The victims have not yet been identified by authorities. Luna said the victims seemed to be in their 50s, 60s and “maybe some even beyond there.”

Here’s what you need to know about Monterey Park shooting suspect Huu Can Tran:


1. Huu Can Tran Was a Chinese Immigrant Who Was Divorced & Once Gave Informal Dance Lessons at the Ballroom Where the Shooting Occurred, Reports Say

CNN reported that Tran had “once been a regular presence at the dance studio” though “it is unclear how frequently Tran visited the dance hall, if at all, in recent years.” He “gave informal lessons” and met his ex-wife there, the outlet reported, adding that the ex-wife told the network that Tran “saw her at a dance, introduced himself, and offered her free lessons.”

The ex-wife was not identified by CNN, which reported that she said he was never violent but angered quickly, including when she “missed a step dancing.” She told the outlet she thought he had “lost interest in her” several years into the marriage and he filed for divorce in 2005, CNN reported, which was finalized in 2006. According to the outlet, Tran “was an immigrant from China.”

Chester Chong, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, told ABC7 in a live broadcast that he believes the suspect was a husband who had grown angry at his wife.

“This hate is because of a wife and husband,” Chong said when asked if the mass shooting was a hate crime. He said that information came from friends who went dancing and singing in the area. Chong told ABC7 that those people told him the husband was angry because he didn’t want his wife to go to the dance hall but she went anyway.

Authorities have not confirmed that information, and Luna said in the later press conference that authorities are still trying to determine the motive.

Earlier, Luna would only say it was a “possibility” that the suspect knew someone or people at the dance hall. He said the domestic angle is “on the table” as a possible motive, but he did not confirm it during either news conference.

“I still have questions in my mind, which is, what was the motive for this shooter? Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic violence abuser? How did he get these guns, and was it through legal means? Well, those questions will have to be answered in the future,” said U.S. Representative Judy Chu during the later news conference.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Captain Andrew Meyer described the shooting as a “mass shooting incident” in the first of three press conferences, which was held in the early morning hours of January 22. He said that officers from the Monterey Park Police Department responded to a shots-fired call and saw “numerous individuals” who were patrons of the establishment “pouring out” of the location and screaming. They located additional victims inside, Meyer said.

“We are utilizing every resource to apprehend this suspect,” Luna said before the suspect was located, calling it one of the county’s “most heinous cases” and “senseless.” He said investigators “want to get this guy, and they’re going to.”

The sheriff said the victims are five females and five males and are probably of Asian descent, but authorities are still working to identify them. Ten more people were injured, and seven victims are still hospitalized, Luna said. The sheriff said California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation.

“We need to reexamine what we’re doing,” he said.


2. Huu Can Tran, Who Worked as a Trucker, Entered the Star Ballroom Dance Studio & ‘Appeared to Fire Indiscriminately,’ Reports Say

Meyer said the mass shooting occurred at a “ballroom dance location.” CNN reported that the location was Star Ballroom Dance Studio. A friend told CNN that Tran went to the dance studio “almost every night” years ago, but he complained that instructors said “evil things about him,” and he was “hostile to a lot of people there.”

Tran “was easily irritated, complained a lot, and didn’t seem to trust people,” CNN reported the friend said. According to CNN, Tran had worked as a truck driver.

Meyer said the conditions of the surviving victims ranged from stable to critical, but he did not have the victims’ ages.

The Lunar New Year festival in Monterey Park was supposed to continue into Sunday, January 22, 2023, but it was canceled, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Weise said in the news conference. In the Sunday press conference, Weise said he brought in extra officers to make sure the community is safe.

Seung Won Choi, who owns a restaurant near the shooting scene, said three people “rushed into his restaurant and told him to lock the door,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Choi said the people described a suspect with a “semiautomatic gun” who “had multiple rounds of ammunition on him, so that once his ammunition ran out he reloaded.”

Wong Wei told The Times a friend was in the bathroom of the dance club when the shooting occurred. She saw two female victims and the club leader, according to The Times, which described Wei as saying the suspect “was carrying a long gun and appeared to fire indiscriminately.” He added, “They don’t know why, so they run.”

Luna said authorities are still investigating whether Tran had a mental health or criminal history.


3. The Sheriff Says Huu Can Tran Went to Another Ballroom in Alhambra With a ‘Magazine-Fed Semi-Automatic Assault Pistol,’ but He Was Disarmed by Bystanders

Authorities are also investigating an incident in Alhambra, California, near Monterey Park. Luna said a male Asian suspect walked into a dance hall there with a firearm as well. People inside the dance hall “wrestled the firearm away from him,” and he “took off,” the sheriff said in a news conference. Brandon Tsay, whose family owns the ballroom, has been identified as the hero who took the gun from Tran, according to The New York Times.

Some witnesses in that area described a white cargo van, giving investigators a key clue, he said. In the later news conference, Luna said that suspect in Alhambra was also Huu Can Tran. The sheriff said authorities recovered a “magazine-fed semi-automatic assault pistol” at that location that had an “extended large capacity magazine attached to it.”

A law enforcement source told CNN the weapon was “a Cobray M11 9mm semi-automatic.” CNN reported through a source that authorities were able to trace the gun, giving them Tran’s name.

“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. They did so, took possession of the weapon, and the suspect ran away,” Luna said of the Alhambra incident.

Tsay told ABC News that he helped disarm the suspect.

“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle,” he told ABC. “We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head.”

According to Luna, he believes the weapon “is not legal to have here in the state of California.”

Luna said Tran went into the Alhambra establishment about 20 to 30 minutes after the mass shooting in Monterey Park.

Journalist Jeong Park wrote on Twitter, “Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra are blocked off with police tapes and detectives are seen walking in… Captain Meyer of LA Sheriff had mentioned of another event in Alhambra in relation to the Monterey Park shooting.”

Fox News reported that sources said the incidents are related, which Luna later confirmed.


4. Huu Can Tran May Have Sought Medical Treatment After the Shootings, Reports Say

Law enforcement sources told CNN that the suspect “may have sought medical treatment shortly before his capture.” According to CNN, an area hospital told police a man matching the suspect’s description “came into the emergency room seeking treatment for injuries consistent with having been in a fight.”

He left before receiving treatment, according to CNN. Shortly thereafter, police spotted the white van, CNN reported.

According to Meyer, it’s “too early in the investigation” to know the motive. He said authorities are still sorting out whether the suspect knew the victims or whether the mass shooting was a targeted attack.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, tweeted, “The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. He directed her to make sure that the FBI is providing full support to local authorities, and to update him regularly today as more details are known.”


5. Huu Can Tran Accused His Family of Trying to Poison Him, Reports Say

According to The Los Angeles Times, citing two law enforcement sources, Tran “recently showed up to the Hemet police station saying his family was trying to poison him.”

The outlet reported that “Tran had been living at the Lakes at Hemet West, a mobile home park whose sign billed it as ‘A 55+ active living community.'”

CNN’s Camila Bernal reported: “I talked to witnesses here on the scene who told me that this is a popular dance club. People regularly come here on the weekends. We also know that they were celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year. So as these celebrations were going on, these shots rang out.”

ATF Los Angeles tweeted, “ATF Los Angeles is on scene and assisting its local law enforcement partners in the Monterey Park mass shooting.”

Supervisor Hilda Solis said in the news conference that the shooting was heartbreaking. “We continue to be resilient,” she said of the community. Solis said thousands of people attended the celebrations near the dance hall. She said it is a community that is accepting of diversity and immigrants.

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