1 of 4 | Vice President Kamala Harris carries flowers as she pays her respects to the victims of a mass shooting at Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Wednesday. Harris is visiting a memorial and families of a mass shooting that happened Saturday 21, 2023, leaving 11 dead and 10 injured. Photo by Allison Dinner/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris visited Monterey Park on Wednesday where she called on Congress to act to prevent further mass shootings like that which killed 11 people at a night club in the California city over the weekend.
Harris visited the Star Ballroom Dance Studio where the shooting on Saturday night took place, and laid a bouquet of flowers among those on the ground in front of a vigil for those killed. She told reporters that during her visit to the grief-stricken city of some 60,000 people that she had spoken with local officials and was to meet with some of the mourning families.
She offered condolences on behalf of herself, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, while remarking to reporters that there have already been more than 40 mass shootings this year, and that she has had the unfortunate experience of visiting some of those sites.
"We will always as a compassionate nation mourn for the loss and pray for those who survived in their recovery, but we must also require that leaders of nations who have the ability and the power and the responsibility to do something, that they act," she said.
She lauded California for being a leader in terms of smart gun safety laws, but that Congress needs to act so the United States can have a "uniform approach" to gun violence and get "at least one step closer to what is right and what is reasonable."
"We need reasonable gun safety laws in our country," she said.
She also called on the public to pressure their elected officials and leaders "to have the courage to do the right thing."
Asked if Congress can do anything to address gun violence, Harris said, "They absolutely can.
"Can they do something? Yes. Should they do something. Yes. Will they do something? That is where we all must speak up, and speak to our elected representatives about what we have a right to expect that they will do in the interest of the safety, the security and the well-being of people like those whose lives were ended here and people around the country," she said. "They can, yes."
The suspected gunman has been identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran.
Authorities said he killed 11 people and wounded nine others at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Saturday night before driving to a second location in nearby Alhambra, Calif., where a member of the public wrestled a firearm away from him.
Police said Tran died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was found by officers in the front seat of a white van located in the parking lot of a strip mall some 30 miles from the first crime scene.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna told reporters during a Wednesday night press conference that they were still working to find a motive for the shooting.
Luna said investigators have not been able to establish a connection between the victims and the suspect, and that the suspect had not visited the dance studio in at least five years.
"We're looking at everything, every which way but loose, and again with the goal of trying to find a motive and hopefully we can," he said. "Sometimes it's frustrating when something like this happens that is so tragic because we're trying to understand it and it doesn't make sense. It really doesn't."
He said three firearms have been located in connection to the shooting, stating that investigators believe a MAC 10 semi-automatic assault weapon was used in the mass shooting and was recovered in Alhambra.
Tran used the weapon with a 30-magazine clip in a spraying motion on entering the dance studio, authorities said during the press conference.
Forty-two rounds were found at the site, meaning he had to change clips during the shooting.
The weapon, Luna said, was not registered in California but the suspect had purchased it in the city of Monterey Park on Feb. 9, 1999.
A hand gun, which was registered to the suspect, was found with the suspect's body and which police believe was the cause of the self-inflicted gunshot wound, and a rifle was found at the suspect's residence following a search. The long-gun was also registered in the suspect's name, Luna said.
A motorcycle was also found one block south of the dance club and is believed to have been parked there Saturday by Tran as an alternative getaway vehicle, the sheriff said.
"It appears to us that he was using the van to get from one place to another, and, obviously, we find it very interesting that he put that motorcycle sometime Saturday within a block of the location where he committed the mass murder," he said. "Why? We're assuming it was an additional getaway vehicle if he needed it. Why else would be put it there?"
Investigators have also learned that Tran was arrested in 1990 for unlawful possession of a firearm, he said.
Authorities said Tran was of Vietnamese descent and had lived in Hong Kong. He had lived in the United States for seven or eight years prior to the shooting, they said.