Victims killed in Monterey Park shooting were in their 50s to their 70s

The youngest of the 10 killed in the Monterey Park shoot was in her 50s while the oldest were three men in their 70s, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner said Monday, Jan. 23.

So far, the coroner’s office had identified two of the victims: My Nhan, who was 65, and Lilan Li, Female, 63.

In all, five were women and five were men.

Investigators continued searching for answers, seeking a motive for why a gunman walked into a Monterey Park ballroom dance studio to shoot and kill 10 people and leaving another 10 wounded.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified two of the five women killed as My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 63. The names of the other eight fatally wounded were withheld, pending notification of their relatives.

On Sunday L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the shooter as Huu Can Tran, 72, of Hemet. He ultimately killed himself that day, authorities said, after pulling his white van into a Torrance strip mall and getting stopped by law enforcement.

Related Story: Monterey Park looks for answers in aftermath of deadly attack on dance hall

More details on Tran were emerging Monday morning, outlining what appeared to be his movements between two dance studios, first the Monterey Park site, and then an Alhambra dance studio, where a second assault was possibly thwarted.

During a celebration at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, patron Brandon Tsay told ABC News, he heard the front door click to close behind him. Tran had apparently gone there after the Monterey Park shootings.

“That’s when I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was I was going to die here, this is it,” Tsay, 26, told ABC News’ Robin Roberts during an interview Monday on “Good Morning America.”

Tsay, who said he helps run the dance hall with his family, ultimately lunged at Tran, grabbing the gun during a struggle.

“We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other,” Tsay recalled. “He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head.”

Ultimately, Tsay was able to wrest the gun away and kick Tran out, yelling, “Get the hell out of here! I’ll shoot! Get away! Go!”

When Tran’s body was found in the white van, so was a different handgun, along with other potential evidence linking him to the killings at the Monterey Park studio, authorities said.

But a motive for the shooting was still unclear early Monday.

“That is something that investigators were trying to learn,” Luna said on Sunday. “We want to know what the heck happened here.”

A cluster of reports on Sunday had cited law enforcement as saying the man had been looking for his wife.

A woman takes cell phone photos through the front window of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Sunday, January 22, 2023 after the police took down the crime scene tape following the deadly shooting of 10 people at a ballroom late Saturday night. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG) 

Meanwhile, a community mourned.

Known for being a peaceful, kind city, full of immigrants and a vibrant Asian population, attention turned to the victims and their families, and a dance studio that once was a hub that taught dance of all styles to locals during the day. At night,  the place transformed into a dance hall with live music.

Back in 2016, then owner Ming Wei Ma spoke to the Pasadena Star-News about the vibrancy of the place.

“I want to provide an active place for the Asian community of Monterey Park to help prolong their life and improve their health,” Ma told the the paper. “Having a place where people from all over the world can come together and communicate through dance is how I can help.”

Reports were emerging that Ming Wei Ma was among victims, though not officially confirmed.

Community members have organized a candlelight vigil for Monday evening to honor the victims.

People are encouraged to bring flowers or candles to Monterey Park’s City Hall, at 320 W. Newmark Ave., for the 7 p.m. vigil.

“We don’t want this to be normal and we don’t want this to be acceptable,” said Ann Lau, a community member who helped organize the vigil.

The mass shooting felt personal for Lau. She said she wanted to bring people from various groups together to express solidarity as individuals and “look at each other as human beings,” regardless of their political views or ideas.

As Monday dawned, attention also turned to the collective trauma left in the aftermath of the shooting.

Local schools were upping their security and readying mental health support services.

The Alhambra Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Montebello Unified School District, which all serve Monterey Park, shared messages of condolences on Sunday and detailed their plans to support students.

Both LAUSD and MUSD announced that there will be extra police presence and mental health support services at schools in the Monterey Park area on Monday, Jan 23.

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AUSD students will not be in school on Monday as it is a designated pupil-free day for staff professional development. Grief counseling will be available for AUSD students when they return to campuses on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

“Each of us at Alhambra Unified School District join in the shock, outrage, and profound sorrow over the violence last night in Monterey Park, home to many of our families and beloved neighbors,” said AUSD Superintendent Denise Jaramillo in a letter to the community. “In what should be a time of joint celebration for Lunar New Year, we are instead standing ready to help our community with grief and support.”

Jamarillo also emphasized the importance of parents talking to children about the incident and gun violence in an age-appropriate manner.

Elected officials, including President Joe Biden — who decreed that flags be flown at half-staff on all government buildings until sunset on Thursday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Reporters Clara Harter, Georgia Valdes and Mona Darwish contributed to this report. City News Service also contributed to this report.