(CNN) — As investigators work to determine a motive in the mass shooting that killed 11 people and injured nine others at a dance studio in Monterey Park, California, the community now faces a long road to recovery, mayor said.
“People are just in disbelief and shock, and are feeling very numb,” Mayor Henry Lo told CNN Monday night. The Saturday night shooting came as the city’s majority Asian community was marking the Lunar New Year, bringing tragedy on what was supposed to be one of the most auspicious days of the calendar.
“There is a lot of fear and anxiety out there. People are fearful of this kind of situation where our joyous Lunar New Year celebration was turned utterly upside down into tragedy and fear,” Rep. Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, said Monday, standing at a candlelight vigil for those killed.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom was meeting with victims of the shooting Monday when he was pulled away to be briefed on another fatal mass shooting in Half Moon Bay — the state’s second mass shooting in three days. “Tragedy upon tragedy,” Newsom said in a tweet.
Monterey Park’s mayor sent condolences to Half Moon Bay, saying, “I know what is in store for them in the next few days.”
As investigators assemble in Northern California, officials to the south say they’ve uncovered “several items of interest” during a search of the home of the Monterey Park shooting suspect, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran.
Some of the items found while detectives executed a search warrant at the suspect’s Hemet, California, home Monday led officials to believe he was “manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.
Detectives also found “hundreds of rounds” of ammunition, a 308-caliber rifle and various electronic devices, the sheriff added.
Still, as investigators probe the large cache of ammo they found, it remains unclear what motivated the Saturday night attack.
“Did he plan this? Was it the day of? Was it the week before?” Luna said at a news conference Monday. “We don’t know. But we intend to find out.”
The gunman was “very familiar” with the dance studio where the shooting took place, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told CNN. “There is certainly the appearance that this was targeted,” he added.
Three people who knew Tran, including his ex-wife, also told CNN that he had once been a familiar face at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where he gave informal dance lessons.
But it’s not clear how often he visited in recent years, if at all, and authorities are still investigating whether any of the victims were known to Tran.
42 rounds were fired inside the ballroom, sheriff says
The shooting at Star Ballroom Dance Studio happened around 10:22 p.m. Saturday. The gunman fired 42 rounds of ammunition from a high-capacity handgun at the dance hall, according to Sheriff Luna.
At least one person was shot in a vehicle outside the dance studio, and police believe Tran shot that person first before he entered the dance studio and opened fire on the crowd of civilians, the sheriff said.
Monterey Park officers were at the studio within three to four minutes, arriving to a scene of “carnage” as people lay wounded and others were pouring out of the venue, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said.
About 20 minutes after the shooting, the suspect — still armed– showed up at a second dance studio in nearby Alhambra where authorities say a man wrestled a gun away from him — a firearm authorities ultimately used to ID the suspect, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case.
The weapon was described as a 9mm semi-automatic MAC-10 pistol with an extended large-capacity magazine, according to Luna, who added that the assault weapon appears to have been modified.
On Sunday, Tran was found dead inside a van about 30 miles away in Torrance as a SWAT team swarmed the vehicle. The sheriff said he died following a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Investigators also recovered a Norinco 7.62 x 25 handgun registered to the suspect inside Tran’s cargo van, Luna said.
Ballistic and forensic comparisons will need to be done on all of the items that were recovered from the alleged shooter’s home, as authorities also look into Tran’s history.
So far, the sheriff has said that the suspect had a “limited criminal history,” noting an arrest in 1990 for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Some victims identified
Rep. Judy Chu said the gunman who killed 11 on Saturday night “took them away from their families at a night that was supposed to be joyous, Lunar New Year.”
The victims — five men and six women — were over the age of 50, and three were over 70 years old, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Four of the victims were identified as: 65-year-old My Nhan, 63-year-old Lilan Li, 57-year-old Xiujuan Yu, and 68-year-old Valentino Alvero, the coroner said. The other victims were described as two women in their 60s, a woman in her 70s, a man in his 60s and three men in their 70s, the office said.
At least one of those killed was a Chinese citizen and one of the victims, Alvero, was a United States citizen of Filipino descent, according to the countries’ consulates in Los Angeles.
Two Taiwanese Americans were also among the victims, according to Taiwan’s de facto diplomatic representative in Los Angeles, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
Nhan, known as “Mymy,” loved to dance and spent many years at the dance studio where she was killed, according to a statement from her family.
Nhan’s dance instructor, Maksym Kapitanchuk, told CNN she was a delight to have around.
“She would always smile,” Kapitanchuk said. “I don’t even think I’ve ever seen her without her smile — even through the mask I can see her eyes smiling. She was the delight of the class, of any party, any class.”
At Monday’s vigil, leaders described the shock and the loss being felt across the Monterey Park community.
“This hit too close to home,” said Chun-Yen Chen, executive director of the Asian Pacific Community Fund.
On Saturday, community members had been celebrating the Lunar New Year at the ballroom alongside dancing grandparents. “Now some of them are no longer with us,” she said.
Many leaders praised the community for coming together in the wake of the tragedy.
“We will not let this murderer defeat us,” Former Assembly member Mike Eng said at the vigil. “We will move forward with more enthusiasm and more love, because the only thing that defeats hate is love.”
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