Dance teacher to mass shooter: Huu Can Tran, 72, ‘taught lessons almost every night’

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 classes almost nightly at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the early 2000s when he lived five minutes away in the San Gabriel Valley.

Tran’s friends, who were close to the shooter from the early 2010s, revealed to CNN that he was “hostile to a lot of people” at the studio and believed they were “saying malicious things about him.”

The shooter’s ex-wife also revealed that she had met Tran at a dance class for decades and it wasn’t long before they tied the knot.

Saturday’s shooting left five women and five men dead and ten more injured. Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a confrontation with police on Sunday.

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

Tran taught classes almost nightly at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the early 2000s when he lived five minutes away in the San Gabriel Valley

Tran taught classes almost nightly at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio 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 at the studio, but he moved to Hemet in 2013 after about 20 years in Los Angeles.

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

The friend also recalled that Tran was quick to anger and did not trust people.

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

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

Tran’s love seemed to fade quickly when she claimed that her former instructor lost interest in her and got angry easily when she messed up the choreography.

Their marriage certificate revealed that Tran is an immigrant from China.

Multiple victims were killed in the New Year's Eve shooting in California

Multiple victims were killed in the New Year’s Eve shooting in California

Police can be seen swarming into the Tran van on Sunday that used to flee after killing five women and five men - and injuring another 10 people

Police can be seen swarming into the Tran van on Sunday that used to flee after killing five women and five men – and injuring another 10 people

Huu Can Tran, who slaughtered 10 people Saturday night during Chinese New Year celebrations in Monterey, California, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempted second shooting thwarted by 'hero' cartridges

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

Shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio was Tran’s first stop before heading to the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra 30 minutes later, where brave patrons fought him off and took the gun.

Tran then fled the scene and was on the loose 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 was planning to kill more people,” Luna said at a press conference on Sunday evening. “They saved lives,” he said of the patrons. “This could have been much worse.”

The exact ages of the victims have not been released, but Luna was all over 50. Seven of the injured remained in hospital, he said.

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

Aerial footage shows officials removing unknown objects from the white van after the standoff

Aerial footage shows officials removing unknown objects 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 pistol was discovered in the van where he was found dead, Luna added.

Earlier Sunday, law enforcement officers 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 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 New Year’s celebrations across the country. Other cities sent additional agents to monitor the celebrations.

On Sunday, New Year's celebrations around the area of ​​the mass shooting were canceled

On Sunday, New Year’s 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 dancing and celebrating after a Lunar New Year celebration that ended about an hour before the shooting

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

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

The company offered dance classes from tango to rumba to foxtrot and rented space for events. On Saturday, the website said, it hosted 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 were reports of shots fired. Ten people were killed and 10 injured.

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

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