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Authorities are investigating the gunman’s motive after Monterey Park massacre

Elizabeth Wolfe, Seán Federico-O'Murchú and Chris Boyette

Investigators in Monterey Park, California, are still searching for the motive of a gunman who killed 10 people and injured 10 others during a shooting inside a ballroom dance studio Saturday night, devastating the majority-Asian community on the eve of its Lunar New Year celebration.

The suspect, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was located in the nearby city of Torrance, where he died after shooting himself as police approached his vehicle, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Sunday.

Hours earlier, a gunman had walked into Star Ballroom Dance Studio shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday night, not long after the city’s streets had been crowded by thousands of festival-goers, the sheriff said.

After releasing a barrage of gunfire on the people inside, the gunman drove to a second dance hall in neighboring Alhambra where he entered with a firearm but fled after being disarmed by two patrons, Luna said.

Authorities have not named any of those killed or injured. The coroner’s office is still working to identify the deceased so police can notify their families, Luna said, adding that the victims are generally older than 50. Seven of the injured victims were still hospitalized Sunday, he said.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Suspect found in nearby city: At around 10:20 a.m. Sunday, police in the city of Torrance — about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park — spotted a white cargo van matching the description of one seen leaving the scene of the Alhambra dance studio, Luna said. Officers followed the van into a shopping center parking lot and began getting out of their patrol car to approach the driver — later identified as Tran — but retreated when they heard a gunshot from inside the van, he said. Armored vehicles and SWAT teams arrived and eventually cleared the van, discovering Tran dead inside.
  • Evidence links suspect to shooting: Inside the van, investigators found “several pieces of evidence” linking Tran to both the Monterey Park and Alhambra dance studios, the sheriff said, not providing further details. They also found a handgun, Luna said. Police previously said a gun was wrestled from the armed man at the Alhambra dance studio. Three people who knew Tran told CNN he had once been a regular patron of the Monterey Park dance hall, where he gave informal dance lessons and met his ex-wife.
  • Suspect was carrying semi-automatic weapon: Luna described the firearm taken from the man in Alhambra as a “magazine-fed semi-automatic assault pistol” with an extended, large-capacity magazine. A law enforcement official told CNN it was a Cobray M11 9mm semi-automatic weapon.
  • Motive still unknown: Investigators have yet to determine a motive, Luna said, but will be considering any available criminal or mental health history and issue a search warrant to find more details. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has obtained a search warrant for Tran’s home in Hemet, California, about 80 miles east of Monterey Park, a Hemet Police spokesperson confirmed.

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