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Monterey Park shooting: Early investigation points to a personal motive

Eleven people were killed and at least nine others were injured as people gathered for a Lunar New Year festival.

Live coverage has concluded. Read here for more.

What to know about the mass shooting in Monterey Park

  • Authorities are searching for a motive in the shooting that left 11 people dead and at least nine injured.
  • The suspect, Huu Can Tran, 72, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.
  • Authorities found evidence linking the suspect to both the Monterey Park shooting and another incident in the nearby city of Alhambra, Luna said.

L.A. County sheriff: Suspect had multiple guns, hundreds of rounds

The California mass shooting suspect had multiple firearms, possibly illegal gun modifications and so many rounds of ammunition that authorities were unable to keep tabs, the sheriff of Los Angeles County said Monday.

The suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a police traffic stop of the van he was driving in Torrance, about 28 miles from the shooting scene in Monterey Park, officials said.

A search of his residence in Hemet turned up a .308 caliber rifle, evidence that the suspect may have been making gun suppressors, which are illegal in California, and a lot of ammunition, Sheriff Robert Luna said Monday afternoon.

Luna described the hundreds of rounds, in .308 caliber and 9 mm sizes, as "loose ammunition." There was so much of it, he said, investigators couldn't immediately come up with a count.

The suspect, named as Huu Can Tran, 72, also had a Norinco handgun in the van. Luna said the weapon used in the mass shooting was a modified semi-automatic, 9 mm MAC-10, named for its original manufacturer, Military Armament Corp.

The compact gun was named in California's landmark assault weapons ban of 1989, as well as in the federal assault weapons ban of 1994, which expired 10 years later. There are sellers of MAC-10 variants and clones who say their weapon is California-legal.

Luna said Sunday he believed the gun associated with the suspect was illegal in California, but he did not elaborate much Monday, except to describe the firearm as an "assault weapon."

Monterey Park shooting was personal, law enforcement officials say

The exact motive in Saturday night's mass shooting in Monterey Park remained a matter of investigation, but law enforcement officials said Monday it appeared to be personal.

Multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said evidence gathered so far seems to rule out terrorism or a hate crime in the dance hall attack, which killed 11 people and injured nine others.

They stressed it's still early in the probe, and they were working on a timeline of events and discovering more about the suspect's background — elements that could help them find a more precise motive.

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators were still processing evidence found at the home of suspect Huu Can Tran, 72, in Hemet, California, about 86 miles southeast of Monterey Park.

They were also looking at evidence from the van where he died by suicide Sunday afternoon after a police traffic stop in Torrance.

Man who disarmed suspect says he scouted room for victims

The man credited by authorities with disarming the Monterey Park mass shooter described a gunman with a cold gaze who scanned a second dance hall for more victims.

Speaking to “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” for Monday night's broadcast, Brandon Tsay, 26, said he thought the man's quietude Saturday night at Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, 2 miles north of the deadly attack in Monterey Park, was odd.

Tsay didn't know at the time that the suspect, later identified as Huu Can Tran, 72, had just shot 20 people at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, an attack in which 11 people have died, authorities said.

"That was the scary part," Tsay told Holt when he was asked whether the man had spoken. "When he came in, he said nothing. His face was very stoic. His expressions were mostly in his eyes — looking around trying to find people, trying to scout the area for other people."

Tsay is a computer coder who also operates the nearby ballroom with relatives, according to The New York Times. He said he thought his death was assured as he watched the man. Then he saw an opening, Tsay said.

The man, he said, started to "prep" his weapon, ostensibly for further bloodshed. The man's attention was focused away from Tsay and others at the venue.

"Something amazing happened," he said, describing the man as distracted. "A miracle actually. It dawned on me that this was the moment to disarm him."

For more on this story watch NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.

City of Monterey Park will host a vigil Tuesday night

The city of Monterey Park will host a vigil at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. PT Tuesday, it said in a statement Monday.

The vigil will be a place "to honor those who have left us and to give strength to those who survived," the city said.

A memorial for the victims has also been established at Monterey Park City Hall.

“We believe that it is important for our community to come together to remember and heal,” Mayor Henry Lo said in a statement.

A resource center for survivors and community members seeking support has been established at the Langley Senior Center, at 400 W. Emerson Ave., according to information from the city.

Another vigil is planned for Wednesday night at Star Ballroom Dance Studio — the site of the massacre — hosted by a local organization dedicated to stopping anti-Asian violence.

Monterey Park shooting suspect made decades-old allegations against his family this month, police say

The 72-year-old Monterey Park shooting suspect had twice visited his local police station this month to make decades-old allegations against his family, Hemet police said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The suspect visited Jan. 7 and 9 "alleging past fraud, theft, and poisoning allegations involving his family in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago," the statement said.

Officials said that the suspect claimed he would return with documentation related to the allegations but that he never did.

The suspect was a resident of Hemet, a city about 85 miles southeast of Monterey Park. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has executed a search warrant on his residence, Hemet police said.

The police department referred further questions to the sheriff's department. A spokesperson said further information was not immediately available.

California has the country's strongest gun laws. They didn't prevent the Monterey Park shooting.

Politicians and gun control advocates are renewing calls for a nationwide assault weapons ban after California's laws failed to prevent the Monterey Park shooting.

On MSNBC on Sunday night, Varun Nikore, the executive director of the AAPI Victory Alliance, which advocates for electing progressive Asian American and Pacific Islander politicians, said: "We need a ban on assault weapons in this country. I cannot say it more clearly than that."

Also Sunday night, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, 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."

The Monterey Park shooting was the 33rd mass shooting this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which characterizes mass shootings as events in which four or more people are shot, not including the shooter.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Sunday the weapon authorities recovered at the Alhambra dance hall — where the shooter headed 17 minutes after the Monterey Park massacre, just a few miles away, before an employee disarmed him — was a “semi-automatic assault pistol” with an extended large-capacity magazine attached.

California has the country’s strongest gun laws, according to the gun control advocacy groups Everytown for Gun Safety and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. It bans military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requires background checks for handgun purchases and allows law enforcement to petition for court orders to prevent people in crisis from accessing firearms, according to Everytown.

It is unclear where or how the Monterey Park shooter obtained the weapon recovered in Alhambra.

Monterey Park shooting death toll increases to 11 after patient 'succumbed to their extensive injuries,' medical center says

A total of 11 people have now died as a result of the Monterey Park shooting after a patient at LAC+USC Medical Center "succumbed to their extensive injuries," the hospital said in a statement.

“Our heroic staff at LAC+USC Medical Center have worked tirelessly to care for the four victims entrusted to our care," it said. "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."

One of the three remaining patients at the Los Angeles medical center is in serious condition and two are recovering, the statement said.

“Our medical teams are working around the clock to care for them, and we remain hopeful for their complete recoveries."

Family of Monterey Park shooting victim release statement: 'We are starting the Lunar New Year broken'

The family of Monterey Park shooting victim My Nhan, 65, said in a statement Monday that "we are starting the Lunar New Year broken."

"We never imagined her life would end so suddenly," read the statement, shared by her nephew’s wife.

Nhan spent "so many years going to the dance studio in Monterey Park on weekends," the statement said.

"It's what she loved to do. But unfairly, Saturday was her last dance."

The statement describes Nhan as "a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend" with a "warm smile" and kindness that was contagious.

"Mymy was our biggest cheerleader," the statement read.

City of Alhambra will host Lunar New Year Festival on Sunday

The city of Alhambra will host a Lunar New Year Festival on Sunday, it said in a statement.

Alhambra is where Huu Can Tran, 72, tried to shoot more people in a second dance hall just minutes after he killed 10 people and injuring at least 10 more at the first dance hall in Monterey Park.

"While we don’t have all the information on the motives of Saturday night’s tragedy, Sheriff Luna has confirmed it was not related to the Lunar New Year Festival and the suspect is no longer a threat to the community," Alhambra officials said in the statement. "The safety of our community is paramount, as such, additional resources from the Alhambra Police Department will be present."

It's not clear what security measures will be taken at the coming celebration.

Activist calls for 'a very real conversation' about domestic violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander women

Asian American activist Amanda Nguyen said on MSNBC on Monday that "a true conversation ... needs to happen about the rates of domestic violence within our community," noting that 60% of Asian American and Pacific Islander women have reported surviving domestic or sexual violence.

The comments from Nguyen, the founder and CEO of Rise, a group that works to combat anti-Asian hate, came hours after Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo told NBC News Senior National Correspondent Kate Snow on Monday that the shooter may have been targeting his ex-wife at one of the dance halls he visited, and that they may have had a history of domestic violence.

The specific source of the statistic Nguyen cited is unclear, though the prevalence of domestic violence facing AAPI women has been well-documented. One report, published by the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, showed lifetime prevalence rates as high as 55% for Asian women.

A report published last March by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum found that 38% of AAPI women reported experiencing sexual harassment within the previous year and 12% reported experiencing gender and/or race-based physical violence, with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander and South Asian women particularly impacted.

Advocates also reported that domestic violence against AAPI women surged during the pandemic, and experts say it could get worse as abortion restrictions increase nationwide.

Asian American officials in Southern California react to Monterey Park shooting: 'We should be safe'

Asian American officials in Southern California shared their thoughts on MSNBC on Monday on the Monterey Park shooting that claimed the lives of 10 people.

“We’re supposed to be living in one of the best countries in the world. We should be safe,” said Chester Chong, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.

Chong said the Monterey Park neighborhood is "a very familiar place" to him and where members of the community like to go for entertainment, adding that it's "all very quiet and peaceful."

"That’s why I feel so sad for this family, and especially on Chinese New Year," he said.

Connie Chung Joe, CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Southern California, told MSNBC that “there is just profound sadness, and grief, and pain.”

“We have already been feeling attacked and that we have a bull’s-eye on our backs," because of the pandemic, she said. "And regardless of what the intent of the suspect was, the impact on our community is that we are feeling again traumatized, and targeted, and injured.”

Joe said the Star Ballroom Dance Studio was “so much part of the community and part of the Monterey Park and part of the Asian American community."

"To have something this tragic happen has been a big blow," she said.

Vigil planned for Wednesday night at the site of the shooting

A local California organization dedicated to stopping anti-Asian violence is planning a vigil for 6 p.m. local time Wednesday at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, the location of the shooting.

The vigil, organized by the group Compassion in San Gabriel Valley, will be an event to "remember, honor and grieve the lives lost to gun violence," according to a post on its Instagram page.

"Today was supposed to be the start of Lunar New Year — a time filled with celebration and joy, but instead today is filled with grief and loss," the Sunday night post said.

The group — which appears to have hosted similar events to condemn anti-Asian violence — was formed in March 2021 as hate crimes against Asian people rose, a member told NBC News via Instagram.

Singer-songwriter Connie Lim, also known as MILCK, whose song "Quiet" became a viral anthem for the 2017 Women's March, said in an Instagram post that she will be at the vigil "to sing and to grieve in community."

Man who says he disarmed shooter says 'he was looking ... for people to harm’

The man who has been hailed as a hero for disarming the Monterey Park shooter at a second dance hall in the nearby city of Alhambra said that the gunman appeared intent on shooting more people there, just minutes after he had already killed 10 people and injured at least 10 more at the first dance hall.

“He didn’t seem like he was here for any money. He wasn’t here to rob us. When he was looking around the room, it seemed like he was looking for targets, people to harm,” Brandon Tsay, 26, said of the shooter in an interview Monday with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Tsay said most customers had already left by the time the shooter arrived at Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio, about two miles north of Monterey Park’s Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where the shooter carried out his deadly attack about 20 minutes earlier, authorities have said.

Tsay is a computer coder and works at the dance hall a few nights a week as the third generation in his family to operate it, according to The New York Times.

NBC News could not immediately reach Tsay for comment and has not independently verified his account.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full story here.

2 Monterey Park shooting victims identified as women in their 60s

Two Monterey Park shooting victims were identified by the Los Angeles Coroner's Office as women in their 60s.

My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 63, were both killed in the Saturday night shooting that claimed 10 lives.

It is not known at this time what their relationship with the shooter was, or why he would have targeted them.

Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and South Dakota order flags lowered to half-staff to honor victims of Monterey Park shooting

The governors of Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and South Dakota have directed flags to be lowered to half-staff in their states until Thursday in honor of the victims of the Monterey Park shooting.

The governors made the direction in accordance with a proclamation from the White House.

“I’m heartbroken for the families and loved ones of the victims as we grieve this tragedy at a time when many celebrate the Lunar New Year with family,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “We must work together to prevent this senseless gun violence that claims the lives of too many Americans and upends the lives of countless others every day. We are holding the entire Monterey Park community in our hearts.” 

Monterey Park mayor to NBC News: Shooter was 'possibly' targeting ex-wife

Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo told NBC News Senior National Correspondent Kate Snow on Monday morning that the shooter may have been targeting his ex-wife at one of the dance halls he visited, and that they may have had a history of domestic violence.

"My understanding is that he may have come because his ex-wife was reveling, celebrating the Lunar New Year, and it sounded like there was a history of domestic violence, which is unfortunate," Lo said.

"As for the motive, the reason why, I think we're still trying to uncover and understand that," he added later in the interview.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said it "can’t say whether it was related to that or not" and has no additional information to release as of early Monday.

Authorities have not yet released a motive in the shooting.

NBC News has reached out to the person believed to be the shooter's ex-wife for comment.

What we know about the victims

The shooting victims were believed to be in their 50s or above, authorities said Sunday.

Without disclosing individual names or conditions, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the victims appeared to be in their 50s and 60s and maybe older, adding that officials were in the process of identifying the victims.

At least seven of 10 injured victims remained hospitalized as of Sunday evening, Luna added. Some of those survivors were in critical condition while others had been stabilized, authorities said. Their conditions were not immediately clear as of early Monday.

A spokesperson for Dignity Health Southern California Division said its facilities in the area, which include California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles, received two patients, one of whom was discharged and the other stabilized.

Investigators at the scene of the mass shooting

Image: Ten Killed In Mass Shooting At Lunar New Year Festival In California
Investigators on Sunday near the scene of the deadly shooting in Monterey Park, Calif.Eric Thayer / Getty Images

Suspect may have had history of visiting the dance hall, mayor says

The suspect alleged to have unleashed the carnage at a Monterey Park dance hall, killing at least 10 people, may have been to the studio in the past, Mayor Henry Lo said.

"We do understand that he may have had history of visiting this dance hall," he told NBC's "TODAY" show.

The mayor suggested it was possible the motive behind the attack "had to do with some personal relationships," but said police were still investigating.

It also remained unclear how the suspect had obtained the illegal weapon used in the attack, he said.

Monterey Park police 'inundated' with calls after shooting

The Monterey Park Police Department has been overwhelmed with questions following the mass shooting, officials told the local community Sunday.

"Our dispatch center has been inundated with questions," police said in a local alert, urging residents to allow them to focus on emergency calls.

A memorial for the victims was set up at the City Hall, police added.

Prayer vigil at Monterey Park City Hall on Sunday

Image: Ten Killed In Mass Shooting At Lunar New Year Festival In California
Eric Thayer / Getty Images
Image: Ten Killed In Mass Shooting At Lunar New Year Festival In California
Members of the community hold a prayer vigil at Monterey Park City Hall on Sunday for victims of the deadly shooting.Eric Thayer / Getty Images

Gov. Newsom visits Monterey Park

California Gov. Gavin Newsom met with local leaders of Monterey Park on Sunday, as he called for "real gun reform" at the national level hours after the deadly mass shooting.

"Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence," he wrote in a separate tweet.

Dance studio announces temporary closure after shooting

The Star Ballroom Dance studio, where Saturday's deadly mass shooting unfolded, has shut its doors temporarily, the studio announced Monday.

"What should have been a festive night to welcome the first day of the Lunar New Year turned into a tragedy," it said in a Facebook post.

"Our heart goes out to all the victims, survivors, and their families. In this time of healing, we hope that all those who were affected have the space to grieve and process what transpired within the last 24 hours," the statement read.

The studio was shut "until further notice" and all classes had been canceled, it said.

Authorities investigate motive in Monterey Park mass shooting

Authorities are still investigating the motive in the deadly shooting, which took place in California’s San Gabriel Valley region — home to more than a half-million people of Asian heritage who were celebrating the Lunar New Year.

The suspect, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a van in Torrance after a traffic stop led to a standoff, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Sunday night at a news conference. 

Law enforcement officials recovered “several pieces of evidence” in the van linking the suspect to both the Monterey Park scene and a second scene in neighboring Alhambra, Luna said.