Gun Violence

The motive of the Lunar New Year shooter whose actions left 11 dead in a Monterey Park dance hall remains unknown

LA County Sheriff Robert Luna at Sunday morning press conference after mass shooting in Monterey Park
Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

Here’s what we know of the devastating mass shooting that took place in Monterey Park over this past weekend.

It is a story that continues to unfold.

On Saturday, January 21, at approximately 10:22 pm, officers from the Monterey Park Police Department responded to a shots fired call at 100 block of West Garvey Avenue in the city of Monterey Park.
When the officers arrived at the location, they found both victims and terrified patrons at a local dance studio where a crowd had been celebrating the Lunar New Year when a gunman entered the celebration and began shooting. Then reloading, and shooting again. And again.

The police quickly called the Monterey Park Fire Department to the scene where firefighters began treating victims inside the studio.

Ten victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Another ten shooting victims were transported to local hospitals where, as of Sunday morning, their conditions still range from stable to critical.
By that time, the shooter was long gone.

From Saturday night through Sunday morning, police searched for the man whose actions had caused so much harm.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide investigators were also called to the scene where they continue to investigate this devastating mass shooting, which is the deadliest in the US since the Uvalde elementary school massacre last year.

“This area is 65% Asian and it was after a Chinese Lunar New Year dance on Chinese New Year’s Eve,” novelist Celeste Ng tweeted early on Sunday morning.

Later, at a midmorning press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna expressed deep condolences to the victims and their families, then outlined what the department knew at that tune, and what it didn’t yet know.

Before leaving the mic, Luna described the “determined look” he’d seen in the eyes of the LASD’s homicide investigators.

“We’re going to get this guy,” he said.

By Sunday afternoon, Luna was proved right.

At first, however, it was not clear that the man found dead inside a white van that police located in Torrance, was, in fact, the shooter.

All the while, the shock and sorrow continued.

Congress member Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, speaks at Sunday morning press conference.

Congress member Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, was among those who spoke at the grief-laced Sunday morning press conference. After praising the first responders and mourning those killed and wounded, Chu paused for a few moments.

 “You know,” she told those gathered at the press conference when she spoke again. This could have been so much worse,”

Only hours earlier, Chu said, “all of us were gathered together only one block away at the Lunar New Year festival.”

According to the congress woman there had been thousands celebrating at the larger event nearby.

“It’s horrible that such a thing could occur at a time of celebration for so many in the AAPI community,” said Chu. “This is a time to be with family, to celebrate, and yet this tore a hole through all of our hearts.”  

Before turning the microphone over to the sheriff, Congress member Chu told the crowd that she has lived the city of Monterey Park for 37 years, serving on its city council, and as its mayor.

And what she knows about the city is that Monterey Park “is resilient,” she said.

“And what I know about the people here is that we will get through this together.”

Meanwhile, as Monterey Park residents coped with their shock, those in Asian communities across LA County tried to find the best way to keep their own Lunar New Year celebrations in the context of grief and horror.

With this struggle in mind, the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted that the LAPD would be joining “with our community members” as they also attempt to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown.

“The tragic news from Monterey Park remains in everyone’s mind, and in an abundance of caution, we will be providing extra patrols in our diverse Asian communities throughout Los Angeles.”

Finding the white van

At approximately 11:20 a.m. Saturday, Sheriff Luna tweeted a photo and a description of the suspected shooter.

Before the hour was out, law enforcement had located a white van in Torrance that they believed was connected to the gunman.

Police surrounded the vehicle, and eventually were able to breach it.

Inside they found the van’s driver, a man who would later be discovered to be the shooter. He was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The dead man’s name is Huu Can Tran. He was 72-years-old, and lived in Hemet.

According the LA Times, Tran attempted to enter another dance school with the likely intent of shooting additional victims, but two community members managed to get his gun away from him, and he ran off.

Huu Can Tran’s motive for causing so much death, injury, and sorrow is, as yet, unknown.

As of Monday, however, the 11th victim has died.

Law enforcement surrounding the now-breached white van.
The LASD asks anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.  Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call crime stoppers at 800-222-8477.


  • Sheriff Luna and all of Law Enforcement did a out standing job and should be commended and especially the young man who took the susps weapon away and alerted Alhambra PD

  • The Sheriff’s Homicide unit known as the BULLDOGs did a outstanding job as always, Sheriff Luna was outfront from the start, as a prior INVESTIGATOR OF THAT UNIT they should all stand tall job well done.

  • @ Albert, Yes Homicide Unit did an outstanding job. However, the publicity-hungry former Potato head cowboy and his posse were quick to call out Sheriff Luna for not apprising the Community about the threat from the lone gunman for 5 hrs.
    @ Sheriff Luna, you should ask former LT from the now eliminated Public Corruption unit and, promoted by the VILLAN Captain A. Meyer as to why he did not apprise you. Would it be that he did not earn his promotion (promoted on the down low by the VILLAN for his knee-deep work in a suedo- campaign role @ Public Corruption Unit along with his bff from MCB Lieutenant R.P).
    Are you confident in Captain AM and, is he the right person for the job?

  • WB, everyone knows you were an under achiever, and didn’t do much. Screaming 10-33 for everything was hilarious. Keep spewing ur shade brah.

  • I just saw an update (01/25/23), on KTLA 5 News that the Sheriff provided regarding the shooter, weapons used etc. It appeared that the Press Corps had more detailed information about the weapons and suspect than did the Sheriff. Kind of embarrassing. The Sheriff kept on stating, “we’re looking into that. We don’t know.” It appears that S.I.B. did not prepare the Sheriff very well.

    Not to be a stickler, but the Sheriff’s appearance did not look to professional. Tie bar was crooked. He did not exude an aura of confidence either. However, when Pete Demetriou was asking pointed questions, the Sheriff looked a little perturbed and took over Capt. Meyer’s spot. Maybe it’s me, but I noticed that the Sheriff kept nodding his head as if it was an uncontrolled nervous twitch?

  • Well LA Voter you seem to have a problem with who ever appears on the local TV. Whats your problem with a crooked tie bar,my are we going to pick him apart for his whole term?

  • @LA County Voter would a cowboy hat wearing sheriff make you feel better? We no longer have a the self serving “break all the political” rules sheriff. Thank God.

  • @32A, you keep clapping behind the scenes when the deranged potato head, cowboy hat wearing clown comes up with conspiracy theories on his Instagram feed every week. What’s next oh look there is a bird landing on the property next door. Oh wait, that was RP’s job to make it happen aka the-mail … brah

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