Names of Monterey Park shooting victims released

The names of the six women and five men killed in Monterey Park were released Tuesday. All but one were in their 60s and 70s.

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — The 11 people killed in a dance hall shooting ranged in age from 57 to 76, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office said Tuesday as it released the names of the dead, while investigators continue were looking for a motive for the worst shooting in the county’s history.

Sheriff Robert Luna called the shooter, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, a “crazy man” and said investigators were looking into whether he had ties to the people who were shot at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.

Tran fired 42 rounds from a semi-automatic weapon Saturday night, killing 11 people and wounding nine in the ballroom popular with older Asian Americans. He then drove to another nearby dance venue, where an employee snatched a modified 9mm submachine gun from him, Luna said.

Tran fatally shot himself on Sunday as officers surrounded the van he was in. A handgun was recovered from the van that matched descriptions of the vehicle he used to get away from the dance studio.

The shooting was the country’s fifth mass murder this year and the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

As Monterey Park residents and Asian Americans were rocked by the violence Monday, a gunman killed seven people at two farms in northern California. It was the third mass shooting in California in eight days.

The names of the six women and five men killed in Monterey Park were released Tuesday. All but one were in their 60s and 70s.

Tran once visited the ballroom and another dance hall he later targeted and complained about how he thought people were treating him there, a man posing as a longtime friend told The Associated Press. Tran offered to teach new women to dance at both clubs for free so he could have a partner.

Constantly suspicious and paranoid, Tran regularly complained that people at the clubs didn’t like him, according to the former boyfriend, who requested anonymity to talk about Tran because he wanted to avoid the media limelight.

“He always looked at everything with a doubtful look. He just didn’t trust people at all,” the friend said. “He used to complain to me that the instructors … kept their distance from him, and he said a lot of people spoke badly of him.”

Investigators were also looking into reports Tran made to police officers in the city where he lived twice this month that family members tried to poison him, cheated on him and stole from him in the LA area a decade or two ago , Hemet police spokesman Alan Reyes told The Associated Press. Tran never returned with the promised paperwork.

“Our investigators will be looking at all of these factors to see if they contributed to the insanity that occurred,” Luna told reporters.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies searched Trans’ home in a gated community in Hemet, just over an hour’s drive from the site of the massacre.

Officers found a .308 caliber rifle, an unknown number of bullets, and evidence that he made homemade firearm silencers that deaden the sound of the guns.

Tran lived in The Lakes at Hemet West, a gated community off a busy street with views of snow-capped mountains. The complex features a par 3 golf course, a shuffleboard court and a dance floor. The properties for sale ranged from $45,000 to $222,000.

A neighbor, Pat Roth, told Los Angeles television station KNBC that Tran said he had been a ballroom dancing teacher in the past and sometimes showed up for dances in the seniors’ community.

‘Didn’t look like he’d hurt a fly, you know. He wasn’t a big guy,” Roth said. “He would pet your dog when you walked by.”

Hemet Police had no record of any incidents involving Tran in the community or calls for service at his home, Reyes said.

Authorities have revealed little about Tran, who owned a trucking company in Monterey Park from 2002-2004, according to California business records.

He was arrested once for illegal gun possession in 1990 and had a limited criminal history, Luna said. The sheriff could not immediately say whether a gun arrest at a time when gun laws were different would have barred him from gun ownership.

Trans ex-wife told CNN they got married shortly after they met at the Star Ballroom, where he offered to teach her how to dance for free. He would get upset if she missed a step while dancing, but he was never violent toward her, she said.

They divorced five years later, citing irreconcilable differences, Los Angeles Superior Court records show. The couple had no children, said they had no common property and neither side had to pay child support.

Although she is named in court documents, she asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the case.

The women killed were: Diana Tom, 70, Muoi Ung, 67, My Nhan, 65, Lilian Li, 63, Hong Jian, 62, and Xiujuan Yu, 57, according to the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office. The men were: Chia Yau, 76, Ming Ma, 72, Yu Kao, 72, Valentino Alvero, 68, and Wen Yu, 64.

Tran might have killed many more had it not been for the exploits of Brandon Tsay, who was working at a dance club in the nearby Alhambra, when Tran walked in about 20 minutes after the Monterey Park massacre.

Tsay reacted quickly and disarmed Tran in a brief struggle that was caught on surveillance camera in the Lai Lai Ballroom.

“The person has his gun cocked,” said his father, Tom Tsay, co-owner of the studio. “He saw the opportunity and just jumped.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom met Monday with Tsay, 26, who works part-time at the dance club founded by his grandparents, and said he was a true hero.

“This remarkable young man who took it upon himself without hesitation – albeit with moments of fear – to save countless lives,” Newsom said. “Who knows how many lives he saved.”

Brandon Tsay said he was proud of his actions but didn’t want to discuss them to keep the focus on the victims.

“Some of these people I know personally,” said a somber Tsay outside his family’s home. You come to our studio. It’s a tight-knit community and I hope they can recover from this tragic event.”

Taxin reported from Hemet, Dazio reported from Alhambra and Melley reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalists Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston, Christopher Weber, John Antczak and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles, and Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report. Names of Monterey Park shooting victims released

Laura Coffey

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