AMY TAXIN and DAMIAN DAVARGANES (Associated Press)

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) — Authorities were searching for a motive for a gunman who killed 10 people at a Los Angeles ballroom dance club during a Lunar New Year celebration. cast a shadow over celebrations across the country.

The suspect, Huu Kang Chan, 72, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Sunday in the van from which authorities say he fled after being stopped from attacking another dance hall. The mayor of Monterey Park said Tran may have frequented the dance hall he attacked.

The killing was the nation’s fifth mass killing this month — and it led to one of California’s largest celebrations of the holiday celebrated in many Asian cultures, dealing another blow to a community that has been the target of high-profile violence in recent years.

It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uwald, Texas. Authorities said Saturday’s attack could have been even more deadly. A man whose family runs the place confronted the gunman in the lobby and wrestled his gun from him, The New York Times reported.

Authorities say very little about Chan.

“We understand that he may have been to this dance hall before and perhaps the motivation is related to some kind of personal relationship, but I think that’s something that investigators are still discovering and looking into and we’ll probably know more in the hours ahead or even days ahead,” said Monterey Park Mayor Henry Law. Public records show Tran once had addresses in the city and surrounding areas.

But Law and Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna stressed that the motive for the attack, which also injured 10 people, remains unclear. Speaking at a news conference Sunday night, Luna said all those killed were over 50. There are no other suspects at large, the sheriff said.

The suspect was carrying what Luna described as a semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was found in the van where Tran died.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said Sunday night that within three minutes of receiving the call, officers arrived at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. There they found carnage inside and people trying to escape through all the doors.

“When they got to the parking lot, it was chaos,” Wiese said.

About 20 minutes after the first attack, a gunman entered the Lai Lai ballroom in the nearby town of Alhambra.

Brandon Tsai was in the lobby at the time and told ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​that he thought he was going to die.

“Something came over me. I realized that we need to take away his weapons, we need to take away these weapons, disarm him, otherwise everyone would die,” Tsai said. “When I got up the courage, I threw myself at him with both hands, grabbed the weapon, and we had a fight.”

As soon as Tsai grabbed the gun, he pointed it at the man and yelled, “Get out of here, I’m going to shoot, get out, get out!”

The gunman paused, but then headed back to his van, and Tsai called the police, still holding the gun.

While Luna told reporters Sunday that two men wrested the gun from the gunman, Tsai, who works several days a week at the dance hall opened by his grandparents, told The New York Times that he acted alone. Footage from the footage shown on Good Morning America showed only two men struggling for a gun.

According to witnesses, the suspect fled in a white van.

The van was found in Torrance, another Asian-American community.

After surrounding the vehicle for several hours, the representatives of the law enforcement agencies rushed to it. The man’s body appeared to be lowered onto the wheel and then removed. Members of the SWAT team inspected the contents of the van before leaving.

The Sheriff’s Department previously released photos believed to be from a security camera of an Asian man believed to be the suspect.

Congresswoman Judy Chu said she still has questions about the attack, but hopes residents feel safe now.

“The community was scared, thinking they shouldn’t go to any events because there was an active shooter,” Chu said at a Sunday press conference.

“What was the motive of this shooter?” she said. “Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic abuser? How did he get these weapons and legally or not?”

Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people on the eastern edge of Los Angeles, made up mostly of Asian immigrants from China or first-generation Asian Americans. The shooting took place in the very center of the city, where red lanterns decorated the streets to celebrate the Lunar New Year. A police car was parked near a large banner reading “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”

The celebration in Monterey Park is one of the largest in California. Two days of festivities were planned, which in previous years were visited by up to 100,000 people. But officials canceled Sunday’s events after the shooting.

Tony Lai, 35, of Monterey Park, was stunned when he went out for his morning walk to learn that the sounds he heard during the night were gunshots.

“I thought it was fireworks. I thought maybe it had something to do with the Lunar New Year,” he said. “And we don’t even have that many fireworks here. It’s amazing to see that. It’s really safe here. We’re in the heart of the city, but it’s really safe.”

The Associated Press/USA Today database of U.S. mass murders shows 2022 was one of the nation’s worst years, with 42 such attacks — the second-highest number since the tracker began in 2006. The database defines a mass murder as four people killed, not counting the perpetrator.

California Governor Gavin Newsom visited Monterey Park on Sunday, where he met with victims and their families, as well as local officials.

President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have been briefed on the situation, aides said. Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden are thinking of those killed and injured.

Star Ballroom Dance Studio’s website says it’s hosting an event called “Starry Night” on Saturday from 8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The studio is a few blocks from City Hall on Monterey Park’s main shopping street, Harvey Avenue. small businesses whose signs are in English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are widely spoken, the city celebrates Chinese holidays and regularly shows Chinese films.

Win Liu, 57, who lives about two blocks from the Monterey Park studio, said she was shocked that such a crime had occurred, especially during the Lunar New Year celebration.

“The Chinese consider Chinese New Year very, very special” — a time when “you don’t do anything that brings bad luck all year,” she said.

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AP reporters Andrew Dalton, Jae S. Hong and Eugene Garcia contributed. AP reporter Julie Watson contributed from San Diego.

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