Driver found dead in van linked to Monterey Park mass shooting

Driver found dead in van linked to Monterey Park mass shooting | The Hill

Police investigate a scene where a shooting took place in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. Dozens of police officers responded to reports of a shooting that occurred after a large Lunar New Year celebration had ended in a community east of Los Angeles late Saturday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The driver of a white van connected to the Monterey Park mass shooting was found dead after apparently shooting himself after being surrounded by police in nearby Torrance, California, according to multiple reports.

A gunman killed at least 10 people following a Lunar New Year festival near Los Angeles on Sunday night. It was not immediately clear if the body found in the van was the suspect identified earlier in the day by police.

Police on Sunday released photos of an Asian male suspect in a black leather jacket, black-and-white beanie and glasses, but declined to share the suspect’s name.

At a press conference Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna addressed the “tactical incident” playing out in Torrance, where police and armored SWAT vehicles surrounded the “white box van.”

Authorities said at the presser that they believed a person was in the vehicle, but didn’t have a clear sense of the individual’s condition and indicated that the driver may be dead. 

“People have asked: is that your suspect? We don’t know… There’s a van that looks just like what was described to us in the city of Torrance. It’s a barricaded suspect situation,” Luna said.

The suspect driver is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound, according to The Los Angeles Times.

CNN reported that when officers told the occupant to exit the vehicle, they heard what they believe was the sound of the driver shooting himself.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau tweeted Sunday afternoon that its operation involving the van was complete. “Neighborhood safe,” it added.

Though images of just one suspect was being circulated Sunday, the sheriff didn’t rule out the possibility of potential multiple suspects and multiple weapons used in the incident. Luna wouldn’t share specifics about a weapon seized at the scene, but said the weapon was “not a high-powered assault rifle.” 

“Just like I’m saying there may be more suspects — we think there’s one, there may be more — we have to assume there may be more than one weapon, right? We may have recovered one. When we find him, that doesn’t mean he’s not armed and dangerous,” Luna said.

The Monterey Park shooting occurred at a dance club late Saturday evening, killing 10 and injuring 10 others. The suspect’s motive is unknown, but Luna did not rule out a possible hate crime.

The name of the suspect in the circulated photos is behind withheld for fear its release could “inhibit our ability to potentially arrest the suspect if he is out there or maybe flee[ing],” Luna said.  


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Robert Luna


This post was originally published on The Hill

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