New York, Jan 23 : A 72-year-old man suspected of the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, that claimed the lives of 10 people, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot injury after a standoff with police officers.
In the mass shooting incident on Saturday, deemed as one of the deadliest in the US state’s recent history, five women and five men were killed, while another 10 people suffered injuries.
The tragic incident occurred at 10.22 p.m. in Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a popular ballroom dance facility operated for about 30 years, when it was hosting an event to celebrate the countdown to the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Addressing reporters on Sunday night, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said that the suspect was identified as Huu Can Tran, who entered the party and opened fire before fleeing the scene in a white van.
After the shooting around 10:20 p.m. at the dance club where the New Year’s eve celebration was winding down in Monterey Park, he allegedly went to another in Alahambra where he was disarmed by patrons, but escaped.
The vehicle was pulled over in a parking lot on Sunday morning and surrounded by policemen from Torrance, located roughly 50 km southwest of Monterey Park after they heard a gunshot from inside the vehicle.
The man inside the van, who was found dead following a three-hour standoff with the Special Weapons and Tactics team, was confirmed as the suspect later, according to Luna.
A motive for the shooting is yet to be ascertained.
The dead as well as the seven people in hospital with injuries were older people in their 50s and 60s, Luna said.
Meanwhile, 1,700 km away and three hours later in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, another gunman struck at a night club wounding 12 people.
Baton Rouge Police Lieutenant Bryan Ballard said that the shooting there was not a random incident but was targeted.
The shooting occurred at the Dior Bar and Lounge around 1.30 a.m.
No arrest has been made so far, and the motive of the shooting remains unknown.
Both incidents do not appear to be motivated by bias like some of the recent massacres, although fears surfaced after the California shootings as Asians are facing a surge in bias attacks.
The shooter in California was also an Asian, who is likely of Vietnamese descent, but officials have not provided a motive for the attack.
Chinese and Vietnamese celebrated their lunar New Year’s day on Sunday.
Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 residents located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles, has a majority, or 65 per cent, Asian-American population.
Starting Saturday, the city hosted an annual two-day Chinese Lunar New Year celebration, one of the largest events in the region.
Thousands had taken part in Saturday’s celebrations which was concluded about one hour before the fatal shooting.
President Joe Biden said that the attack in Monterey Park where Asian-Americans “were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this weekend”, has deeply impacted them.
Biden has issued a proclamation honoring the victims, ordering flags to fly at half-staff at the White House and other federal buildings until sunset on Thursday.
The Saturday shooting was the second within a week in California, where six people had been killed on January 16 in Goshen.
A 16-year-old and a 10-month-old were among the victims in what police said was likely a gang-related attack.
The US grapples with gun violence as there aren’t strict nationwide gun laws and a strong movement backed by Republicans against gun control by literally and very broadly interpreting a Constitutional provision on the right to possess weapons.
As a result, even states like California that have strict gun laws face an influx of illegal weapons from states with lax laws.
According to the non-profit group that runs the Gun Violence Archive collating weapon incidents, there have already been 36 mass shootings this year while there were 647 last year.