Monterey Park shooter claimed he faced death threats decades ago – Orange County Register

The man who went on a deadly shooting rampage at a Monterey Park dance hall twice encountered San Gabriel police in the 1990s, once when he armed himself with a gun to chase a robbery suspect and a second time when he reported death threats from a shadowy Taiwanese gang, according to police reports.

Records obtained by the Southern California News Group offer a glimpse into Huu Can Tran’s psyche and purported paranoid delusions, which some former associates believe may have driven him to attack patrons at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio because he felt unwelcomed. Eleven people were killed and nine wounded.

The Jan. 21 bloodbath at the popular dance hall, which is the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County history, occurred during a festive Lunar New Year celebration.

Tran, 72, who most recently lived in Hemet, also went to the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in nearby Alhambra, which he entered with a semi-automatic pistol shortly after the Star Dance shooting. He was disarmed in a struggle with Brandon Tsay, 26, whose family operates the dance studio, and then fled, leaving the weapon behind.

Tran died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Jan. 22  as police closed in on his white van following a traffic stop in Torrance.

Investigators are still trying to piece together a motive for the Star Dance shooting. Tran has no known connection to the victims and his criminal history includes a single arrest more than three decades ago on suspicion of illegally possessing a firearm, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

That arrest stems from an encounter between San Gabriel Police Officer James Kermode and Tran, who was 40 at the time, on the evening of Nov. 27, 1990, according to records.

Kermode said in a report that he received a radio call of a possible robbery in the vicinity of Glendon Way and Del Mar Avenue. He reported that Tran ran up to his patrol car and stated that a “little store” had been robbed. When Kermode asked Tran what store had been robbed, Tran requested to be taken to New Avenue so that he could point it out,

Kermode said he gave Tran a “quick pat down” before putting him in the patrol car and felt a hard object in his left jacket pocket. “I asked Tran what was in his pocket and he said it was a gun,” Kermode said in the report, indicating that he recovered a .38-caliber handgun with hollow-point live rounds.

At the San Gabriel police station, Tran waived his Miranda rights and told Kermode that at around 7 p.m. he was walking his dog in front of George’s Liquor on New Avenue when a man ran from the business carrying a “metal box.” Tran said the owner came out of the business, pointed at the suspect and said he had just “robbed money.”

Tran said he chased the man, but stopped at his home on Manor Way to drop off his dog and grab his gun for protection, and then continued to pursue the suspect, the report states.

When the man stopped at a bus stop, Tran said he walked past him to a phone booth and called police. The owner of George’s Liquor told officers that a man had stolen some beer and that an Asian man chased after him.

Tran was booked into the San Gabriel city jail on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a loaded firearm. It is unclear if he was ever prosecuted.

In another incident, Tran phoned San Gabriel police on Dec. 26, 1992, to report threats he had received stemming from his relationship with a married woman who was getting a divorce.

Tran told a police dispatcher that the woman’s purported sister-in-law said during a phone conservation she belonged to a Taiwanese gang and threatened to have one of her “buddies” kill him if he didn’t stop dating the woman.

Tran, who at the time was employed as a carpet cleaner, said that shortly after the conversation an unidentified man called him and asked him to immediately come to his home in Torrance to clean his carpets.

Tran turned down the request, believing it could be a setup because the woman and her sister-in-law both lived in Torrance.

The following month, Tran reported that 49 loaded shotgun shells had been placed on his lawn, possibly by the woman’s sister-in-law, in an attempt to frighten him.

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