A gunman has opened fire during Lunar New Year celebrations in California, killing 10 people.
Police have confirmed the suspect in a mass shooting that killed at least 10 people and injured 10 more at a ballroom dance studio in California is dead.
Five men and five woman were killed at the Monterey Park studio, their ages are unknown. An additional 10 injured victims were rushed to multiple local hospitals and their conditions ranged from critical to stable. Seven remain in hospital as of midday AEDT.
Sheriff Robert Luna confirmed today that a 72-year-old man of Asian heritage, Huu Can Tran, had been found dead in a white van that had been pulled over by police in nearby Torrance.
A SWAT team earlier this morning surrounded the white cargo van at a carpark in Torrance, Luna said at a press conference this morning.
After an hours-long stand-off, they moved in and began searching the van.
Law enforcement officials then found the body of Huu Can Tran.
Luna said the motive behind the shooting remained unknown, and the investigation was continuing.
Luna said several search warrants would be carried out in the coming hours, but stressed there was no ongoing threat to the community.
Earlier, he asked media “who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?”
The victims are still being identified, but Luna estimated their ages ran from their 50s to older.
Police were called to the Star Dance Studio at 10.22pm Saturday (local time) after a major Lunar New Year festival was held in the city of about 61,000 people, which is 16km east of Los Angeles.
Captain Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said first responders found people “pouring out of the location, screaming”.
Investigators said multiple rounds were fired but they did not believe an assault weapon was used.
At least 10 people have been killed in a mass shooting in the US. (AP)
Luna said a handgun was discovered in the van, while a semi-automatic assault pistol with an extended magazine was found at a nearby location in Alhambra, where it’s believed Tran may have tried to carry out a second shooting.
He was disarmed by two members of the community and fled in a vehicle identified as the white van spotted by police in Torrance.
Seung Won Choi, who owns the Clam House seafood barbecue restaurant across the street from where the shooting happened, told the Los Angeles Times that three people rushed into his business and told him to lock the door.
The people also told Choi that there was a shooter who had multiple rounds of ammunition on him so he could reload.
Luna said that at least one threat had been called in to a hospital where the wounded victims had been taken – though it’s believed to be unconnected.
Second crime scene related to mass shooting
Investigators are looking into a potential link at another dance hall in the nearby area of Alhambra.
Sheriff Luna said a male Asian suspect walked into the second dance hall with a gun about 20 minutes after the mass shooting in Monterey Park.
“Some individuals wrestled the firearm away from him and that individual took off,” Luna said.
Nobody was injured at the second location.
Police don’t believe an automatic weapon was used. (AP)
“Different weapons have been described… There are multiple leads that we are following,” Luna said.
Monterey Park community reeling after attack
The Monterey Park community had been celebrating the Lunar New Year and the city is known for its annual festival. In previous years it had attracted crowds of up to 100,000 people.
About 65 per cent of Monterey Park’s residents are of Asian descent, according to census data.
Earlier in the day, thousands of people attended the festival. Tomorrow’s planned festival has been cancelled by authorities.
US President Joe Biden issued a statement addressing the horrific attack.
“While there is still much we don’t know about the motive in this senseless attack, we do know that many families are grieving tonight, or praying that their loved one will recover from their wounds,” Biden said.
“Even as we continue searching for answers about this attack, we know how deeply this attack has impacted the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community. Monterey Park is home to one of the largest AAPI communities in America, many of whom were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this weekend.”
He said federal law enforcement would continue supporting and directing resources toward the investigation.
Congress member Judy Chu, who was once mayor of Monterey Park, said it was a horrific situation.
“I can only imagine the terror, pain and anxiety that they (the victims and families) feel,” she said.
“It is horrible that such a thing could occur at a time of celebration”
Two police vehicles are seen near a building where a shooting occurred in Monterey Park. (AP)
“To have this tragedy occur on Lunar New Year weekend, makes this especially painful,” Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez tweeted.
“Monterey Park is home to one of the largest #AAPI communities in the country. This is a time when residents should be celebrating with family, friends and loved ones – not fearing gun violence.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was monitoring the situation closely.
This attack is the fifth mass shooting in the US this month and the deadliest since 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the US.