Mass Shooting Devastates Monterey Park

By Lauren Dulatre

On January 21, 2023, 72 year old Huu Can Tran carried out a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. 

The shooting started around 10:22 pm at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where the city’s largest Asian community was celebrating Lunar New Year. When Tran entered the studio, he killed 10 people and injured 10 others, with a semi-automatic weapon. The victims that passed were 5 men and 5 women who were between ages 50-80 years old. 

Before Tran could fire his gun inside another dance studio in another city, Alhambra, authorities said that ‘people wrestled the gun out of his hand’. Brandon Tsay, the man who disarmed Tran of his gun, said it was his ‘first time seeing a gun in his life’. “When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle,” Tsay said. “We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other.”

Tsay then pointed the gun at Tran and told him to ‘get the hell out of here. I’ll shoot you’. Tsay said that Tran stood still for a moment, thinking whether to fight for his gun back or flee from the scene. But soon enough Tran fled from the scene and Tsay immediately called the police. For his brave actions, Tsay is being called a hero by the residents of Alhambra for disarming Tran and possibly preventing another mass shooting and saving people’s lives.

With the gun being taken away from Tran, police were able to identify him. The semi-automatic weapon was traced back to the suspect, and gave the suspect’s name and description. When finding out about Tran’s identity, it prompted a manhunt across the region. The manhunt was able to advance when reports of a white van were seen leaving Alhambra, and on Sunday morning, officers in Torrance spotted a white van that matched the description of the reports. 

“When officers exited their patrol vehicle to contact the occupant, they heard one gunshot coming from within the van,” a Torrance officer said,  “Officers retreated and requested several tactical teams to respond.” “Then – as armored vehicles blocked the van– a SWAT team approached and found Tran dead inside”.

Before this shooting occurred, in an interview on CNN with Tran’s ex-wife on, who asked to have her name hidden for privacy, said that Tran was a ‘regular patron’ at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. She said that she met him at the same dance studio as a student while he was a dance teacher. Tran then went up to her to greet her, introduce himself and eventually offered to give her free dance lessons. The two then went on to later marry. 

During their time together, she said that Tran was never violent towards her, but would be ‘quick to anger’. As an example, she stated that if she were to miss a step while dancing, he would become upset because he claimed it made him look bad as a teacher. Tran then later filed for divorce in 2005. 

Another friend of Tran, who asked not to be named, also stated in an interview with CNN that he remembered Tran’s frequent presence at the studio. He said that he remembers Tran making a ‘roughly five minute drive almost every night’ from his home in San Gabriel to the Star Ballroom dance studio. He also said that Tran frequently complained about the new dance instructors in the studio not liking him, saying that they say ‘evil things about him’. After receiving this information, officials think that this might have been Tran’s motive. 

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