Events honoring the victims of last weekend’s Monterey Park shooting will continue Friday evening as St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Church will have a special Mass to honor the 11 people killed and the nine survivors.
Pope Francis sent a message of condolence sent this week and it will be read during the Mass, which will “unite the community of faith in Monterey Park to offer prayers for those impacted by the tragic event,” according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The 6 p.m. Mass follows vigils at Monterey Park City Hall on Monday and Tuesday nights and at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio — site of the tragedy — on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the motive for what prompted the fatal shooting remains a mystery, with Sheriff Robert Luna saying there is no known connection between the gunman and any of the victims — seeming to dispel suggestions that jealousy or a personal beef led to the rampage.
Luna, in a hastily called Wednesday night news conference, also repeatedly pleaded for anyone who believes they have information about the gunman, his background or his motivations to come forward and speak to investigators.
Luna acknowledged the array of rumors and media reports suggesting possible motivations that may have led 72-year-old Huu Can Tran to carry out the mass shooting around 10:20 p.m. Saturday. But, the sheriff said, investigators have not been able to establish a motive.
He said Tran was unmarried and not romantically tied to any of the victims. Luna also said Tran had not been to the dance studio for at least five years.
Tran’s ex-wife told CNN earlier this week that he used to be a regular at the dance facility, saying that’s where she met him.
Luna asked anyone with information about the shooting or the suspect to call investigators at 323-890-5500.
On Wednesday, Monterey Park police discovered a motorcycle registered to Tran parked in the 200 block of South Garfield Avenue, about a block from the dance studio. Luna said the motorcycle was apparently parked there by Tran Saturday before the shooting, possibly as an alternate getaway vehicle.
Luna for the first time shared photos of the three weapons that have been linked to the gunman.
The weapon used in the massacre was a Cobray model CM11-9, also known as a Mac-10, Luna said. The semiautomatic weapon, which was not registered in the state, was purchased by Tran in 1999 in Monterey Park.
Luna said the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was working to trace the weapon and its purchase. Luna said previously that Tran had been arrested in 1990 for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Tran legally owned two other weapons, Luna said. One was a Norinco 7.62x25mm pistol — with which Tran killed himself inside a van that was pulled over by Torrance police around midday Sunday.
The other weapon was a Savage Arms .308-caliber bolt-action rifle that was seized during a search of the suspect’s Hemet home Sunday night, Luna said.
While Luna said investigators have not established any link between Tran and the victims, the sheriff’s department declined to say how many other people were inside the dance studio when the shooting occurred and escaped injury. It was unclear if investigators had identified and spoken to all of those witnesses.
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Monterey Park Wednesday to meet with the families of the victims killed inside the dance studio after a day of celebration in Monterey Park for the Lunar New Year, while also calling on Congress to enact “reasonable” gun-control measures.
Speaking to reporters outside the dance studio, Harris decried a spate of multiple-victim shootings in the nation since the beginning of the year and said while it’s important to support victims, “we must also require that leaders in our nation who have the ability and the power and the responsibility to do something, that they act.”
Harris then traveled to a victim-support facility that has been established at the Langley Senior Center, spending more than two hours meeting with families of six of the victims and first responders, an aide said.
Ten people died at the scene of the dance studio shooting. An 11th victim later died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
The coroner’s office on Tuesday identified all of the victims as:
— My Nhan, 65;
— Lilian Li, 63;
— Xiujuan Yu, 57;
— Muoi Ung, 67;
— Hong Jian, 62;
— Yu Kao, 72;
— Chia Yau, 76;
— Valentino Alvero, 68;
— Wen Yu, 64;
— Ming Ma, 72; and
— Diana Tom, 70.
Ming Ma was a popular instructor and owner at the dance studio, friends said.
Luna said earlier that investigators recovered 42 shell casings at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, indicating the number of shots that were fired at the scene of the massacre. A large-capacity magazine was also recovered, an indication the gunman reloaded the weapon during the shooting.
Luna also confirmed that one of the victims — possibly Nhan — was shot outside the dance studio and was found inside a vehicle. Luna said that person was likely shot before the suspect went into the building.
About 17 minutes after the Monterey Park attack, Tran entered the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in the 100 block of South Garfield Avenue in neighboring Alhambra. Luna speculated that Tran was going to try to kill more people there — until 26-year-old employee Brandon Tsay, whose family runs the studio, confronted Tran and wrestled away his gun — the Mac-10 — prompting him to leave.
Tsay on Thursday received a phone call from President Joe Biden, who thanked him for “taking such incredible action.”
On Monday, Luna said a handgun was recovered inside Tran’s van, along with “clothing that the suspect wore during the commission” of the Monterey Park shooting.
Luna said among the items found in Sunday’s search of Tran’s home were the .308-caliber rifle, hundreds of rounds of .308-caliber and 9mm ammunition and “items that lead us to believe the suspect was manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors,” or silencers.
Police in Hemet said Monday that Tran went to the Hemet Police Department twice in early January “alleging past fraud, theft, and poisoning allegations involving his family in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago. Tran stated he would return to the station with documentation regarding his allegations but never returned.”
Luna said it remains unknown if those allegations had any connection to the shooting.
Saturday’s rampage was the deadliest shooting in Los Angeles County history and the deadliest in the United States since the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in May that left 22 dead, including the perpetrator.