The Monterey mass shooter was once a dancer at the studio where he killed 10 people during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.

Huu Can Tran, 72, taught lessons at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio almost every night in the early 2000s when he lived five minutes away in the San Gabriel Valley.  

Tran’s friends, who was close to the gunman from around the early 2010’s, revealed to CNN that he was ‘hostile to a lot of people’ at the studio and believed they said ‘evil things about him.’ 

The gunman’s ex-wife also revealed that she met Tran decades during a dance lesson and it wasn’t long until they tied the knot. 

Saturday’s shooting left five women and five men dead and wounded another 10 people. Tran died Sunday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a standoff with police. 

Huu Can Tran, 72, taught lessons at the studio where he killed 10 people. He also met his ex-wife at the studio 

Tran taught lessons at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio almost every night in the early 2000s when he lived five-minutes away in the San Gabriel Valley

Tran taught lessons at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio almost every night in the early 2000s when he lived five-minutes away in the San Gabriel Valley

Aside from teaching dance nearly five times a week, Tran was also a truck driver and registered a business, Tran’s Trucking Inc., from 2002 to 2004, according to documents obtained by CNN.

It’s unclear when Tran stopped teaching lessons at the studio, but he relocated to Hemet in 2013 after about 20 years in Los Angeles. 

Tran’s friend lost contact with the gunman around the time he moved and was shocked to hear about the massacre. 

The friend also recalled Tran being quick to anger and didn’t trust people.

Tran’s ex-wife, whose identity wasn’t revealed, said she was only married to the gunman for a short time before he filed for divorce in 2005. 

She recalled the first time she met Tran and he offered her free dance lessons. 

Tran’s love appeared to fade quickly as she claimed her former instructor lost interest in her and became easily angered when she messed up on choreography. 

Their marriage license showed that Tran is an immigrant from China. 

Multiple casualties were reported after the shooting in California during New Year celebrations

Multiple casualties were reported after the shooting in California during New Year celebrations

Police can be seen on Sunday swarming the van Tran used to flee after he killed five women and five men - and wounded another 10 people

Police can be seen on Sunday swarming the van Tran used to flee after he killed five women and five men – and wounded another 10 people

Huu Can Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempt at a second shooting that was thwarted by 'hero' patrons

He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempt at a second shooting that was thwarted by ‘hero’ patrons

The Star Ballroom Dance Studio shooting was Tran’s first stop before he went 30 minutes later to the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra where brave patrons fought him off and took the gun. 

Tran then fled the scene and was at large until Sunday when police found him in the van he used to flee the massacre.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified Tran as the suspect on Sunday and confirmed his motive is unknown.

‘He intended to kill more people,’ Luna said in a news conference on Sunday night. ‘They saved lives,’ he said of the patrons. ‘This could’ve been much worse.’

The exact ages of the victims were not released, but Luna they all appeared to be over 50. Seven of the wounded people remained in the hospital, he said.

Tran was carrying what was described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where he was found dead, officials said

Tran was carrying what was described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where he was found dead, officials said 

Aerial footage shows officials pulling unknown items from the white van after the standoff

Aerial footage shows officials pulling unknown items from the white van after the standoff

Tran was carrying what was described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where he was found dead, Luna added.

Earlier Sunday, law enforcement officials swarmed and entered the van after surrounding it for hours. They heard a gunshot and approached the van to find Tran’s body slumped over the steering wheel.  

Before locating Tran, Luna said authorities were looking for a white van after witnesses reported seeing the suspect flee from Alhambra in such a vehicle.

The shooting and manhunt sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities in the Los Angeles area and cast a shadow over Lunar New Year festivities around the country. Other cities sent extra officers to watch over the celebrations. 

Sunday Lunar New Year celebrations around the area of the mass shooting were canceled

Sunday Lunar New Year celebrations around the area of the mass shooting were canceled

Interior of the Star Ballroom in Monterey Park where the shooting took place Saturday night

Interior of the Star Ballroom in Monterey Park where the shooting took place Saturday night 

Community members were out dancing and celebrating following a Lunar New Year celebration that had ended about an hour before the shooting

Community members were out dancing and celebrating following a Lunar New Year celebration that had ended about an hour before the shooting

The Star Ballroom Dance Studio is a few blocks from city hall on Monterey Park’s main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls of small businesses whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated and Chinese films are screened regularly in the city.

The business offered dance lessons from tango to rumba to the fox trot and rented its space for events. On Saturday, its website said, it was hosting an event called ‘Star Night’ from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, officers arrived at the dance hall where there had been reports of shots fired. Ten people were killed and 10 were injured. 

The massacre was the nation’s fifth mass killing this month. It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. 



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