At least 10 people killed in mass shooting in Monterey Park, near Los Angeles

The tragedy at a ballroom dance club following Lunar New Year fest is the fifth massacre in the US since the start of the year

Two police vehicles are seen near a building where a shooting occurred in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.
Two police vehicles are seen near a building where a shooting occurred in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.Jae C. Hong (AP)
Monterey Park - 22 Jan 2023 - 14:04

A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the fifth mass killing in the US this month.

Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people died at the scene in the city of Monterey Park.

Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10.30pm. Saturday. He said officers then went into the ballroom and found victims as firefighters treated the wounded.

Meyer gave no description of the male suspect or the weapon he used, or why police gave no information on the shooting for hours while the shooter remained on the run. He also said police were investigating another incident in the nearby city of Alhambra to see whether it was connected.

Meyer said it’s too early in the investigation to know if the gunman knew anyone at the ballroom or if it was a hate crime or not. He gave no other details.

The Lunar New Year celebration had attracted thousands.

Later, authorities in California say they are investigating the possibility that the male suspect believed to have shot and killed 10 people at a Lunar New Year’s celebration may have entered a second dance hall nearby about 30 minutes later.

The weapon he was carrying was wrestled away by someone at the Alhambra dance studio and handed over to police. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna also said at a press conference Sunday that the suspect who left 10 people dead and 10 injured at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio is still at large.

Luna says the weapon obtained by police “was not an assault rifle.” “We believe that there’s an incident that may be related,” Luna said of the confrontation in Alhambra. “We’re not quire there yet, but it’s definitely on our radar screen.”

Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people that sits at the eastern edge of Los Angeles. The majority of its residents are Asian immigrants or their descendants, most of them Chinese. The dance studio in downtown Monterey Park is just a few blocks from city hall on its main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls that are full of small businesses whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened in the city.

The tragedy marked not just the fifth mass killing in the US 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 US. 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.

Seung Won Choi, who owns the Clam House seafood barbecue restaurant across the street from where the shooting happened, told The Los Angeles Times that three people rushed into his business and told him to lock the door.

The people said to Choi that there was a shooter with a gun who had multiple rounds of ammunition on him.

Wong Wei, who lives nearby, told The Los Angeles Times that his friend was in a bathroom at the dance club that night when the shooting started. When she came out, he said, she saw a gunman and three bodies.

The friend then fled to Wei’s home at around 11pm, he said, adding that his friends told him that the shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately with a long gun.

The celebration in Monterey Park is one of the largest Lunar New Year events in Southern California. Two days of festivities were planned but officials canceled Sunday’s events following the shooting.

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