18 people dead in two mass shootings in California's tragic weekend
As the motives for both attacks remain unknown, both suspects were Asian-American and both attacked communities were Chinese communities.
The suspect in the Monterey Park shooting at a dance studio in California has been identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, who was pronounced dead as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after police surrounded a white van in Torrance, Los Angeles.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna confirmed that 11 people have been killed and nine others have been wounded after Tran entered the Star Ballroom Dance Studio while the city's biggest Asian American community was celebrating the Lunar New Year.
A manhunt began following a description of a white van observed leaving the area, and the next day authorities in Torrance spotted a vehicle matching the description.
“When officers exited their patrol vehicle to contact the occupant, they heard one gunshot coming from within the van,” Luna stated, adding: “Officers retreated and requested several tactical teams to respond.” When the SWAT team approached the vehicle, they found the suspect dead inside.
With the motive still unclear and a search warrant issued to enter Tran's home, Luna stated it would be jumping the gun to say the shooting was a hate crime. Tran, an immigrant from China, was a regular patron of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, per his ex-wife's statement to CNN.
"Limited" criminal history
Tran’s ex-wife revealed that she actually met him two decades ago at the Star Ballroom where he gave lessons. Tran filed for divorce later in 2005. A longtime friend also claimed that the suspect was “hostile to a lot of people there" since he believed that instructors at the studio were not fond of him and spread “evil things about him,”
According to Hemet police public information officer Alan Reyes, business records reveal that a company called Tran's Trucking Inc. was registered in 2002 but was closed two years later. His criminal history was "limited" as he was arrested back in 1990 for the unlawful possession of a firearm.
A Norinco 7.62 x 25 handgun was recovered from the van that Tran was found dead in, and Luna stated it was registered to the suspect. However, in another planned attack in a dance studio in the nearby city of Alhambra, a “9 mm caliber semiautomatic MAC-10 assault weapon" was wrestled away from him by people to stop him - Luna believes this specific weapon is illegal to own in the state of California.
After searching his home, authorities stumbled upon a 308 caliber rifle and multiple electronic devices like cell phones and computers. They were “items that lead us to believe the suspect was manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors,” Luna said, adding there were “hundreds of rounds – we don’t know exactly how many there were – a lot of loose ammunition so eventually, we’ll get to exactly how many those were.”
Tran was reported to have arrived to a hospital to seek treatment in the emergency room to treat wounds that matched fight wounds. He was seen by staff waiting for a period of time, leaving without treatment, and staff called the police to report it.
7 dead in farm shootings in Half Moon Bay
In the second mass shooting this weekend in California, at least seven people were killed and one was in critical condition in Half Moon Bay, California. The shooting was carried out by 67-year-old suspect Chunli Zhao.
San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine confirmed that four people were killed at a mushroom farm and three at a trucking business in the city just south of San Fransisco. Although the motive for this shooting as well still remains unknown, employees on the farm that Zhao attacked were all Chinese-American.
“We are sickened by today’s tragedy in Half Moon Bay,” Pine released in a statement, adding: “We have not even had time to grieve for those lost in the terrible shooting in Monterey Park. Gun violence must stop". It was revealed that Zhao actually worked for one of the businesses and was known as a "disgruntled worker".
After the suspect was found in his parked vehicle, police also found a semi-automatic handgun inside. Sheriff Christina Corpus told reporters: "Shortly thereafter three additional victims were also located deceased with gunshot wounds at a separate shooting scene,"
Governor Gavin Newsom described Monday's shootings as another “tragedy”.
At the hospital meeting with victims of a mass shooting when I get pulled away to be briefed about another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 24, 2023
Tragedy upon tragedy.
The California shootings mark the fourth and fifth mass shootings in the US this month and are considered the deadliest after the Uvalde Texas shooting, according to AP.