California gunman identified as ‘distrustful’ ballroom dancing fan

World

The sole suspect in a Chinese New Year shooting which killed 11 people at a California dance hall has been named as Huu Can Tran. 

Nine others were wounded in the massacre, with further deaths averted by the heroic actions of a worker who disarmed Tran when he entered a second dance hall in Los Angeles County, apparently wielding a gun.

The 72-year-old fatally shot himself after fleeing the scene as police closed in on his van.

He had once been a dance teacher at the same venue where he is accused of opening fire, it has emerged.

As police piece together what happened, those who knew him have shared other details about the alleged shooter.

Here is what we know so far about him.

Tran’s links to the dance studio

Tran was reportedly a regular at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, where he is said to have fired 42 rounds on Saturday night (21 January).

An ex-wife of Tran’s told CNN she met him at the studio about 20 years ago, and that he used to give lessons there.

A long-time acquaintance of Tran’s said he would go to the studio almost every night in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

They told CNN he was “hostile to a lot of people there” and that Tran had claimed the instructors at the time didn’t like him and said “evil things about him”.

It is unclear if Tran had been to the dance studio in recent times and if he knew anyone who was inside during the shooting.

A man lays flowers at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio
Image:
A man lays flowers at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio

Quick to anger but ‘never violent’ before

Tran’s ex-wife told CNN Tran was never violent but he was quick to anger – for instance, if she missed a step while dancing.

A tenant of Tran’s, Adam Hood, told Reuters Tran was an angry, aggressive person who did not have many friends but liked ballroom dancing, his main social activity.

“He was a good dancer,” said Mr Hood, who met Tran in the early 2000s and said they bonded over their shared experience as Chinese immigrants.

“But he was distrustful of the people at the studio, angry and distrustful. I think he just had enough.”

Tran complained that people at the studio were talking behind his back, Mr Hood added.

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Brandon Tsay describes moments before he tackled California gunman during Monterey Park mass shooting

Tran’s personal life

The shooting suspect lived at a mobile home park for over-55s in Hemet, California, about 65 miles east of where the murders took place.

He used to live closer to the dance studio. Records show he lived in San Gabriel, near Monterey Park, from the early 1990s until around 2014.

Tran and his ex-wife divorced in 2005. He never remarried and did not have a girlfriend, according to Mr Hood.

Tran had an active trucking licence and used to own a company called Tran’s Trucking that he started in 2002.

Interactions with police

Police in Monterey Park had no prior interactions with Tran, police chief Scott Wiese said at a news conference on Monday.

But Tran had visited Hemet police twice this month to report he was the victim of fraud, theft and poisoning by family members a decade or two ago in the LA area, Hemet police spokesperson Alan Reyes told The Associated Press.

Tran said he would return to the station with documentation but never did.

After the shootings, sheriff’s deputies from Los Angeles County searched Tran’s home and found a .308-calibre rifle, an unknown amount of bullets and evidence he was making homemade firearm suppressors that muffle the sound of the weapons.

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