The city clerk of Monterey Park, California, has released recordings of 911 and Fire Department calls made during the deadly mass shooting at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, providing a glimpse of the horror that unfolded amid the Lunar New Year celebrations.
One of the first calls came from a man who had been sitting in his car with his girlfriend at the studio’s parking lot. He said they were about to leave when somebody “suddenly” approached and shot through their window.
The man said his girlfriend was “hit in front of her face,” and when another dispatcher asked if she was awake, he said “I’m not sure.”
When asked if she could speak, he said “She cannot talk,” and when asked if she could breathe, he said she could not.
“Oh, no. Maybe she died. I’m not sure,” he said of his girlfriend, who had been bleeding from the head and nose.
The caller did not identify his girlfriend. However, Mymy Nhan, 65, was identified as the only person shot in the parking lot, with the coroner later listing her place of death as the vehicle.
Another 911 call came in at 10:22 p.m. from a caller who escaped from the studio’s side exit and reported that the shooter was “reloading.”
The caller said the shooting had started two minutes earlier. The dispatcher asked him if anyone was hurt.
“I don’t know,” he answered. “You better send police here right away, he might start shooting again. I’m outside the building. I don’t know if anybody got hurt or not.”
The caller did not get a clear view of the shooter. When asked for a description, he said he thought the gunman was using fireworks.
“It was a male. Just one guy … I thought he was using fireworks,” he said.
Minutes later, someone from the nearby Clam House called and said three people from the dance hall had sought refuge in the restaurant and pleaded with the owner to lock the door.
The caller did not have much information, but said they were told that someone “has a gun and he’s shooting.”
That night, 10 people died and another 10 were wounded from the shooting. Days later, one of the wounded succumbed to their injuries, bringing the total number of deaths to 11.
The alleged gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, drove to Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra some 20 minutes after the shooting. There, he was disarmed by 26-year-old Brandon Tsay, whose family runs the studio.
Tran eventually fled from Lai Lai. The next morning, he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Torrance after an hours-long standoff with law enforcement.