The man suspected of slaughtering 11 people at a Los Angeles County dance hall Saturday night possessed hundreds of ammunition rounds and materials to create homemade gun suppressors at his home, authorities said Monday.
The disturbing details emerged after deputies searched the residence of 72-year-old Huu Can Tran on Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. Despite the announcement, Luna said there was still no clear motive for the deadly rampage.
Monterey Park’s police chief, Scott Wiese, even went so far as to suggest Monday that Tran’s motive may never be fully revealed because he killed himself.
“We all want answers to questions we may never have answers to,” Wiese said. “That’s kind of the enigma of this…The why is a big part of this. The problem is, we may never know the why.”
The “massacre,” as Luna described it, began just before 10:30 p.m. Saturday, just minutes after the conclusion of a community celebration of the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California—a city predominantly populated by Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans.
After Tran was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Sunday afternoon, Luna said detectives recovered the clothes he wore during the attack—which matched those the shooter was captured on camera wearing—as well as a rifle and handgun in his van. There were 42 shell casings recovered in total at the dance hall.
Luna identified three of the shooting victims on Monday: Lilan Li, 63, Valentino Alvero, 68, and Xiujan Yu, 57—while adding that the rest will be named after their families are notified.
The sheriff said investigators are still unsure whether any of the 11 victims killed—or 9 others injured—are related to Tran.
Tran, a Chinese immigrant, once frequented the dance hall he turned into a shooting gallery this weekend, his ex-wife told CNN.
The former spouse, who was not named, said she met Tran at the studio decades ago when he offered to give her a free lesson—something he was apparently known to do back then.
The couple divorced in 2005 and never spoke again, she told the network.
During their time together, Tran’s ex-wife said he wasn’t violent but was “quick to anger”—especially if she put a foot wrong on the dance floor, which would cause him to “occasionally blow up.”
Luna said Monday that Tran’s criminal history included just a single charge in 1990 for unlawfully possessing a firearm.
The search of Tran’s home—in the Los Angeles exurb of Hemet—found loose ammunition and large-capacity magazines spread about. In the van where he was found dead, Luna said they recovered a rifle, handgun and clothes.
Luna called 26-year-old Brandon Tsay a “hero” who saved “many other lives” on Saturday night, as the sheriff said he wrestled away an automatic handgun from Tran at another dance hall where a second attack may have soon occurred.
“He was looking at me and looking around, not hiding that he was trying to do harm. His eyes were menacing,” Tsay told the New York Times.
In total, five of the 11 victims have been publicly identified by either officials or loved ones. The other two are Mymy Nhan, 65; and Ming Wei Ma, who owned the studio and whose age has not been released by family and friends.
Nhan’s family said Monday she was first victim to be shot dead. Luna said investigators believe one victim was gunned down outside the venue before Tran entered and opened fire.
Nhan had frequented the dance hall for years, her family said, adding that “Saturday was her last dance.”
“If you knew her, you knew her warm smile and kindness was contagious,” the statement read. “She was a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend. Mymy was our biggest cheerleader.”
Luna did not identify Ma on Monday, but a series of posts on Facebook from the studio’s heartbroken instructors identified him as one of the deceased.
“Your love, joy for people will never be forgotten,” Dariusz Michalski wrote in a Facebook post. “Your dance and singing passion will never disappear. We will never forget your shout in the studio…I love you my friend.”