Mass Shooting Shocks AAPI Community During Lunar New Year Festival

Over the weekend, a mass shooting in Monterey Park left eleven dead and nine more injured.

Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian American community, was wrapping up the first day of its Lunar New Year’s celebration when a gunman opened fire, instantly killing ten people. An eleventh victim later passed away at a local hospital.

The shooter has been identified as Huu Can Tran, a 72-year old Asian man.

Suspect in Monterey Park shooting (Image: Los Angeles County Police Department)

At 10:22 PM on Saturday night, Tran opened fire inside a dance studio. He then fled the scene and drove to another dance studio, with plans to carry out another attack. Fortunately, a man named Brandon Tsay was able to wrestle the gun out of Tran’s hands before he was able to open fire on the second studio.

Brandon Tsay Speaks on the Attack

Tsay described his heroic actions to ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“That’s when I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun,” he said. Tsay remembers feeling the need to disarm the man, “or else everybody would have died.”

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle. We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other,” Tsay recalled. “Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside, create some distance.”

Tsay told the man to leave or he would shoot. Tran stood there for a moment before fleeing, upon which Tsay immediately called the authorities. His heroism saved countless lives, and even led the police directly to Tran.

After the Attack

From the gun confiscated by Tsay, authorities were able to track down the gunman. By Sunday morning, police cars had surrounded a white van with Tran inside. They surrounded the van for two hours before a singular, loud gunshot was heard. Authorities found Tran dead inside the van from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Huu Can Tran

Not much is known about Tran, the perpetrator of the attack. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna told The Washington Post, “We do not have a motive yet.” He later added, “What drove a madman to do this? We don’t know. But we intend to find out.”

Tran had a limited criminal past, only a 1990 arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm. Authorities did note, however, that Tran had gone to the police station earlier in the month and told officers that his family had defrauded, stolen from, and tried to poison him in multiple occasions over the past 20 years.

Mistrust and grievances appear to have defined Tran’s life; Adam Hood, a former tenant on Tran’s property, claims he had very few friends and “a lot of vendettas against people.” Hood recalled that Tran frequently went to the dance studios that he later attacked. “He kept complaining to me that people there were not friendly with him… For years, he’s been not happy with people in both studios.”

Authorities are still looking into the attack to decipher a clear motive on what led Tran to carry out the shooting. The LA County police department is working alongside the FBI and ATF to uncover the details.

Community Response

Monterey Park, a 65% Asian American community, is still reeling from the attack. Thomas Wong, a Monterey Park council member told NPR, “Instead of celebrating and bringing family together to look forward to a hopeful and prosperous new year, we’re starting it off with a senseless tragedy.”

Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo addressed the importance of supporting the victims and their families, “Moving forward, it is important that we be there for them, to provide services and support they need, in what will be a time of healing in the next weeks, months, if not years.”

Supporting the Victims & Families of the Attack

If you would like to help support the victims of the shooting, please click here to donate.

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