The Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles confirmed on Monday that Chinese nationals were among the dead in Lunar New Year shooting rampage at a dance hall near the US city, as investigators searched for a motive behind one of California's bloodiest outbursts of mass gun violence.
The consulate in Los Angeles said in a statement that Chinese citizens were among those killed but did not offer further details about the victims. Acting Counsul General Shi Yuanqiang met Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna and expressed his wish to work closely together, according to a tweet from the sheriff's department.
Official broadcaster CGTN reported that the consulate sent its sympathies to the Chinese community in the area, and warned Chinese citizens to be alert to ensure their safety.
Police identified Huu Can Tran, 72 as the lone suspect in a massacre that unfolded on Saturday night in Monterey Park, just east of Los Angeles. He drove to another dance hall where a second attack was thwarted, and later killed himself as police closed in to make an arrest hours after the shooting.
Authorities said 10 people were killed and 10 wounded when Tran opened fire at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a venue popular with older patrons of Asian descent. One of the victims admitted to hospital in critical condition died of his wounds on Monday, Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese told reporters.
All of the deceased were between the ages of 50 and 80.
Sheriff Luna said investigators recovered 42 shell casings from the studio and a large-capacity ammunition magazine.
He said the search of the suspect's mobile home in a gated senior-living community in the town of Hemet, east of Los Angeles, turned up a rifle, various electronic devices and items "that lead us to believe the suspect was manufacturing homemade" weapons silencers.
Police also seized hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the dwelling, Luna said.
According to police, Tran barged into another dance hall about 20 minutes later in the neighbouring community of Alhambra, where he was disarmed by an employee and fled that scene, triggering an overnight manhunt. Luna credited the owner of the dance hall with disarming the would-be shooter.
The search for the gunman ended on Sunday morning when the suspect shot himself as police officer surrounded his cargo van in a parking lot in Torrance, south of Los Angeles.
Officers in Hemet, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, were assisting the county Sheriff's Department in a search of Tran's mobile home in a gated senior living community, said Alan Reyes, spokesperson for the Hemet Police Department.
Luna told a news briefing on Monday that Tran had a "limited" past criminal history, including a 1990 arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Hemet police said in a statement on Monday that Tran had come to the department twice in early January alleging "past fraud, theft and poisoning allegations involving his family" dating back 10 to 20 years. Tran had said he would return with documentation regarding his claims but never did, the police statement said.
Luna praised the "heroic" actions of Brandon Tsay, the man who operates the family-run Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio dance club, where the gunman apparently sought to carry out a second attack. The sheriff credited Tsay with single-handedly wrestling away a semi-automatic assault-style pistol from the suspect before the gunman could get off a shot.
"That moment, it was primal instinct," Tsay told the New York Times, saying that the gunman fled the scene after a 90-second struggle. "Something happened there. I don’t know what came over me." (Reuters, additional reporting by RTHK)
Last updated: 2023-01-24 HKT 10:14