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10 Killed, 10 Wounded In Mass Shooting Inside California Ballroom Dance Studio

Monterey Park, CA – Ten people were murdered and 10 more were wounded after a 72-year-old gunman opened fire inside a dance studio on Saturday during a weekend Lunar New Year’s festival, according to police.

The incident occurred at approximately 10:20 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Investigators said the suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, walked into dance studio and started gunning people down.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said officers arrived at the scene within three minutes of being notified about the mass shooting, KABC reported.

“When they came into the parking lot, it was chaos,” Chief Wiese told reporters on Sunday evening.

People were pouring out the doors, attempting to escape to safety, KABC reported.

Inside, nearly two dozen people inside had been shot.

“The first officers on scene were some of my youngest officers,” Chief Wiese said. “They had only been on the street for a short period of time.”

He noted the carnage those young officers encountered at the scene was nothing anyone could be “prepared for,” but that they never hesitated as they ran inside to help the victims, KABC reported.

Ten people were killed and at least 10 more were wounded in the shooting.

All of the victims were believed to be over the age of 50, KABC reported.

Investigators said Tran allegedly attempted to carry out a second attack at the Lai Lai Hou Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra just 20 minutes later, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The suspect walked in there, probably with the intent to kill two more people,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. “But two community members disarmed him, took possession of his weapon, and the suspect ran away.”

The scuffle between Tran and a man who disarmed him inside the second dance studio was captured by a security camera, KABC reported.

Police later said the gun the citizen seized from Tran was a semiautomatic pistol with an extended magazine, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“I believe the weapon that was recovered at the Alhambra location is not legal to have here in the state of California,” Sheriff Luna noted, according to CNN.

Witnesses told police the gunman fled the Alhambra scene in a white van.

The Torrance Police Department (TPD) conducted a traffic stop on a white van at approximately 10:20 a.m. on Sunday, KABC reported.

Investigators said the driver pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall near Hawthorne Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard just before police heard a single gunshot coming from inside the vehicle.

Tactical units responded to the scene and later found Tran unresponsive inside the van, the Los Angeles Times reported.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police allegedly located multiple pieces of evidence inside the van tying Tran back to the incidents at both dance studios, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Sheriff Luna said Tran is the sole shooter and that there is no further risk to the community.

“I can confirm that there are no outstanding suspects,” the sheriff said.

Sheriff Luna said seven victims remained hospitalized on Sunday night, KABC reported.

The names of the victims who were murdered in the attack were not immediately released.

Sheriff Luna said there were five male and five female victims among the dead.

Eric Chen, a friend of the studio’s owner, Ming Wei Ma, told KABC that Ma was killed while trying to stop the gunman.

“Mr. Ma, who is very beloved and respected in the dance community, and he’s been doing that for over 20 years – he was trying to stop the shooter, and he passed away,” Chen said.

The mass shooting occurred during a weekend of Lunar New Year festivities attended by tens of thousands of people, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The events scheduled for Sunday were ultimately canceled in the wake of the attack “out of an abundance of caution and in reverence for the victims,” Chief Wiese said.

Sheriff Luna said investigators are not yet clear on the motive for the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Two law enforcement sources told the paper that Tran had recently shown up at the Hemet Police Department alleging his family members were trying to poison him.

The suspect had been living at a 55+ mobile home park in Hemet, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He had no known criminal history, according to KABC.

Tran’s ex-wife, who wanted to remain anonymous, told CNN that she and Tran met at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio about 20 years ago.

She said Tran had instructed informal dance lessons there in the past, but that she did not know if he continued to do so after their divorce in 2005.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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