SAN GABRIEL, Calif. — The old gunman responsible for the ballroom massacre in Monterey Park was out of step with other Asian immigrants who found joy and companionship at places like the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, have said old friends.
Huu Can Tran, 72, was an angry loner who seemed to have a grudge against the world – not just his ex-wife – people he ran into said on Tuesday.
“I think his whole life was sinking,” said a man who rented an apartment from Tran and asked that his name not be used because he didn’t want to be associated with the shooter.
“He had no job, he sold his property, very few friends, and I believe he had no close friends,” said the man, who added that he was speaking daily with Tran at the time. “No family, no kids, no job, no money. He was hopeless and desperate.
As police struggled to find a motive for the bloodshed, they speculated that Tran may have shot his ex-wife when he burst into the Star Ballroom on Saturday and opened fire. The former tenant said he doubted Tran was targeting her.
“They’ve been divorced for almost 20 years,” the friend said. “His ex-wife also likes to dance, so often they would meet at the party or at events. I don’t think his ex-wife is the cause of his massacre.
Nonetheless, Tran often blamed his ex-wife for the demise of his trucking business. Records show Tran registered a company called Tran’s Trucking in Monterey Park in 2002 and it was dissolved two years later.
“His ex-wife convinced him to close the business and he sold the truck,” the man said.
Tran died by suicide as police closed in on his getaway van 12 hours after shooting 11 people dead and nine others injured at the Star Ballroom. He then invaded the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in the nearby Alhambra, but was disarmed by 26-year-old Brandon Tsay and fled.
Tran, the friend said, was also at odds with the dance hall patrons at both locations and in particular with some of the dance instructors.
“He was always complaining that the instructors were talking badly about him or trying to do something bad about him,” the friend said. “I don’t know if those things were true, but he was always complaining. He thought these instructors were not friendly with him, tried to kick him out of the group somehow.
The man said he had lived in an apartment complex owned by Tran for seven to nine years. He said they stopped talking in 2015 when he moved out and Tran refused to refund the man’s security deposit.
The dispute was settled in small claims court, where the judge sided with the tenant, according to court records.
Most recently, Tran has lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Hemet, but he previously made San Gabriel his home. The mostly Asian town is about a 10-minute drive from Monterey Park.
A former neighbour, who also asked not to be identified by name, said they lived opposite each other for about two decades on a modest street in a neighborhood that was once predominantly Italian. and who is now largely Asian and Latino.
Tran, the person said, was calm and polite and mostly reserved to himself. At the time, Tran went by the name “Andy” and ran a carpet cleaning business, sometimes cleaning his neighbors’ carpets for free, the former neighbor said.
While not wealthy, Tran was able to afford an old Rolls-Royce which he kept parked in his driveway, the person said. He also recalled seeing a white van parked on the modest property, much like the one in which Tran died.
But his clearest memory of Tran awoke 15 years ago to the sound of Tran and a woman he only knew by sight arguing in the street.
“You could see the plates flying around,” the neighbor said. “The plates were crashing down the street and he was yelling at her.”
And every weekend, Tran could be seen walking out of his house wearing his best clothes, the former neighbor said.
“He was always going out to dance,” he said. “Otherwise, we haven’t seen much of it.”
Tran’s last address was at The Lakes at Hemet West, a gated “active living community” for people over 55.
Police have searched the property for clues since Sunday and have found no explanation for Tran’s turn to violence.
“What made a madman do that?” We don’t know, but we intend to find out,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said earlier.
Tran was arrested once for illegal possession of a firearm in 1990, Luna said, but otherwise his record was clean.
He also contacted Hemet police this month, alleging his family tried to poison him 10 to 20 years ago. The allegation was never investigated, police said, because Tran never presented any evidence to support his claims.
Laurence Steinberg, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Temple University in Philadelphia, said Tran didn’t fit the typical profile of a mass shooter.
“We know from FBI data that the maximum age for violent crime in the United States is around 19 or 20, and that has remained fairly consistent over the years,” Steinberg said in a statement. . “So this seems to be a period of development where there is a greater risk of people committing acts of violence.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
Alicia Victoria Lozano reported from San Gabriel. Marlene Lenthang and Corky Siemaszko reported from New York.