At least 10 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a shooting rampage at a dance club after a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, authorities said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a brief statement saying the shooting was reported at 10:22 p.m. Saturday. The gunman remained at-large
“Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives are responding to assist Monterey Park Police Department with a shooting death investigation,” the statement said. The initial death toll was nine; authorities later said 10 people had died.
Monterey Park is a city of 60,000 people about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The shooting took place shortly after a Lunar New Year’s celebration had brought thousands of people to the city, which has a majority-Asian population.
The shooting was the nation’s most deadly since 24 people were killed in a Texas school in May.
►Sheriff’s Capt. Andrew Meyer said Sunday that the shooter was male but provided no description or motive for the carnage.
►He said investigators were checking reports that an attempted shooting at a ballroom in Alhambra, a couple miles north of Monterey Park, might be related.
►Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said the second day of the two-day Lunar New Year celebration set for Sunday has been canceled “out of an abundance of caution and reverence for the victims.”
Meyer said the county homicide bureau was working the case along with Monterey Park Police, the FBI and the California Office of Emergency Services. He said it was too early in the investigation to determine a motive.
“The investigators are working every lead in this case,” Meyer said. “We have all our resources here. … We are reviewing all surveillance video, following all leads. We’re not going to leave anything unturned.”
He said investigators had not determined if the shooter knew the victims, and he was asked if the attack was a hate crime.
“We don’t know if its targeted,” Meyer said. “We will look at every angle, including if it was a hate crime or not.”
President Biden has been briefed by Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall on shooting, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a Twitter post.
“He directed her to make sure that the FBI is providing full support to local authorities, and to update him regularly today as more details are known,” Jean-Pierre said.
Meyer said officers responded to a call of shots fired at around 10:30 pm local time.
“When officers arrived on scene they observed numerous individuals, patrons of the location, pouring out of the location screaming,” Meyer said. He said officers immediately entered the building, finding the dead and wounded. The wounded were taken to hospitals where their conditions range from stable to critical, Meyer said.
Video from the scene shows ambulances lined up awaiting people being loaded onto stretchers. Other photos showed bloodied and bandaged victims being treated by firefighters in a parking lot.
“The suspect fled the scene and remains outstanding,” Meyer said.
The site of the shooting in downtown Monterey Park is a few blocks from city hall on the city’s main thoroughfare. Garvey Avenue is dotted with strip malls full of small businesses with signs in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened in the city.
Wong Wei, who lives nearby, told the Los Angeles Times that a friend had gone to the dance club that night with a group of friends. His friend was in the bathroom when the shooting started, Wei said. His friend came out and saw a gunman and the bodies of two women and a club manager, Wei said. The group of friends fled to Wei’s home, he said.
The shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately, his friends told him.
“They don’t know why, so they run,” he told the Times.
Fifth US mass killing this month, deadliest since May
The tragedy marked the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year but also is the deadliest since May 24, 2022 – when 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. The database also shows that 2022 was also one of the worst years ever in terms of mass killings, with 42 such attacks – the second-highest number since the creation of the tracker in 2006. The database defines a mass killing as four people killed not including the perpetrator.
The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.
Lunar New Year, sometimes called Chinese New Year, is celebrated in several Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia. Some traditions are shared, others are specific to those nations. It marks the beginning of the Lunar calendar year, and months are moon cycles.
This year the lunar year begins today, Sunday, kicking off the Year of the Rabbit (except Vietnam swaps a cat for the rabbit). Twelve animals take turns claiming the year on a rotating basis. Legend says the animals crossed a dangerous river in the following order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
Contributing: The Associated Press