The man who fatally shot 10 people in a Southern California dance studio had once been a regular presence at the venue, even meeting his ex-wife there, three people who knew him told CNN.
Police say Huu Can Tran, 72, opened fire at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park, on Saturday night, before fatally shooting himself after a manhunt across the region on Sunday.
His ex-wife said in an interview that she had met Tran about two decades ago at the dance studio, a popular community gathering place where he gave informal lessons. Tran saw her at a dance, introduced himself, and offered her free lessons, she said.
The two married soon after they met, according to the ex-wife, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the case. While Tran was never violent to her, she said he could be quick to anger. For example, she said, if she missed a step dancing he would become upset because he felt it made him look bad. She said that after several years together, she got the impression that he had lost interest in her. Her sister, who also asked not to be named, confirmed her account.
It was unclear how frequently Tran visited the dance hall, if at all, in recent years.
Tran filed for divorce in late 2005, and a judge approved the divorce the following year, Los Angeles court records show.
Tran was an immigrant from China, according to a copy of his marriage license that his ex-wife showed to CNN.
A 5-minute drive from his home: Another long-time acquaintance of Tran’s also remembered him as a frequent presence at the dance studio. The friend, who also asked not to be named, was close to Tran in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when he said Tran would make the roughly 5-minute drive from his home in San Gabriel to Star Ballroom Dance Studio “almost every night .”
Tran often complained at the time that the instructors at the dance hall didn’t like him and said “evil things about him,” the friend remembered, adding that Tran was “hostile to a lot of people there.”
More generally, Tran was easily irritated, complained a lot, and didn’t seem to trust people, the friend said.
Tran at times worked as a truck driver, according to his ex-wife.
Business records show that Tran registered a business called Tran’s Trucking Inc. in California in 2002. But he dissolved the firm about two years later, writing in a corporate filing that the it had never acquired any known assets or incurred any known debts or liabilities.
Bought a mobile home in Hemet: In 2013, Tran sold his San Gabriel home, which he had owned for more than two decades, property records show.
Seven years later, records show, Tran bought a mobile home in a senior citizens community in Hemet, California, an outlying suburb about 85 miles east of Los Angeles.
Tran’s friend said he hadn’t seen Tran in several years and was “totally shocked” when he heard about the shooting.
“I know lots of people, and if they go to Star Studio, they frequent there,” the friend said, adding that he was “worried maybe I know some of” the shooting victims.