Police hunt for gunman

Local law enforcement officers in Monterey Park, California, are hunting for the suspect in the shooting in a dance studio there on Saturday night and they are assisted in the hunt by officers from the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department and federal agents from the FBI.

We are expecting a press conference by the police at 11am US eastern time today where, hopefully, they will offer more details not just about what happened but where the manhunt and the investigation are up to.

The frantic hunt for the perpetrator continues after he fled in the night. Police have said he is a man but have not given out any other details, if they have them.

US president Joe Biden has been briefed by the US homeland security department, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokeswoman, said on Twitter.

The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. 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.

— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) January 22, 2023

Monterey Park is a majority Asian American city about seven miles from downtown Los Angeles.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred,” said Los Angeles City controller Kenneth Mejia, the first Asian American to hold citywide office.

Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred. Monterey Park is home to one of the largest Asian communities in Los Angeles County and many were out celebrating the Lunar New Year.

— Kenneth Mejia, CPA (@kennethmejiaLA) January 22, 2023

Key events

A mass shooting during celebrations for the lunar new year

The deadly shooting in a majority Asian-American town outside Los Angeles comes during a celebration of family and tradition to mark the beginning of the year of the rabbit:

For billions of people across Asia and in Asian diaspora communities around the world, this weekend marks the beginning of the lunar new year celebrations, a two-week holiday marking the end of the Zodiac year of the Tiger, and ushering in the Year of the Rabbit – or Cat, if you are in Vietnam. For the first few days commercial activity slows or stops, as people gather with their families. For many migrant workers in China, it is often the only time of the year they can return to home towns. The holiday is steeped in tradition, with a focus on family, food, reflection and looking forward.

The mass shooting Saturday night, which took place not far from Monterey Park’s popular lunar new year celebration, has led to cancellation of the second day of festivities there, and may cast a pall on other lunar new year celebrations across the country.

Morning summary

This is Lois Beckett in Los Angeles, picking up our coverage of the deadly mass shooting last night in Monterey Park, California, which left at least ten people dead and ten others injured.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • What happened: At around 10.20pm on Saturday night, a gunman opened fire in a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, authorities said, leaving ten people dead.

  • Perpetrator not yet arrested: The shooter, who was identified in preliminary reports as an Asian male between 30 and 50 years old, is still at large, sheriff Robert Luna said at a press conference Sunday morning.

  • The weapon: A law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that the gunman used “a high-powered” military-style rifle “at close range.”

  • Who was killed: Five men and five women died at the scene, authorities said. The names of the victims have not yet been released.

  • Who was injured: At least ten people are wounded, and their conditions range from stable to critical, authorities said.

  • Context: Monterey Park is a majority Asian American city about 7 miles from downtown Los Angeles. About 65% of residents are Asian American, according to census data. The shooting happened close to Monterey Park’s popular lunar new year festival which attracts thousands of celebrants. The city has cancelled the second day of the weekend festivities in the wake of the shooting.

  • Is this a hate crime: “Everything is on the table … We don’t know if this is a hate crime by law,” the sheriff said at Sunday morning’s press conference.

  • What’s next: Authorities promised a more detailed description of the suspect “in a few hours”.

  • Across the nation: Lunar new year celebrations are planned in cities across the US and, indeed, across the world today to mark the start of the Chinese year of the rabbit. There will be huge events in Los Angeles, New York and other places today.

  • Questions remain: At the press conference, the sheriff described reports of a potential related incident in Alhambra, another majority Asian American city near Monterey Park, which took place 17min after the Monterey Park shooting, “where a male Asian suspect walked into a dance hall … with a firearm and some individuals wrestled the firearm away from him” and then “hat individual took off”, Luna said. He said it’s not clear if the incidents are related.

  • Bigger context: Between March 2020 and March 2022, more than 11,400 hate incidents against Asian Americans were reported across the United States, according to a report by Stop AAPI Hate.

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the Monterey Park mass shooting, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted, adding that Biden has directed the FBI to provide “full support” to local authorities.

The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. 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.

— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) January 22, 2023

Meanwhile, vice-president Kamala Harris has issued her condolences alongside her husband Doug Harris to the victims and their families.

“Overnight, yet another community was torn apart by a senseless act of gun violence. To the Monterey Park families impacted: Doug and I mourn with you—and pray for you,” she said.

Overnight, yet another community was torn apart by a senseless act of gun violence. To the Monterey Park families impacted: Doug and I mourn with you—and pray for you. @POTUS and I will continue to provide full support to local authorities as we learn more.

— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) January 22, 2023

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is currently working with law enforcement partners in the shooting, the agency said on Sunday.

“Everything is on the table … We don’t know if this is a hate crime by law,” said Robert Luna on a possible motive of the perpetrator.

Luna said that the suspect “remains outstanding”, adding, “We are here to tell you that we are utilizing every resource to apprehend this suspect, in what we believe to be the county’s most heinous cases. Our local state and federal law enforcement agencies are working together to better serve the residents here of Los Angeles county and to apprehend this attacker.”

5 females and 5 males victims are dead

5 females and 5 male victims are dead, said Los Angeles county sheriff Robert Luna, adding that their specific ages have not yet been identified.

“We believe that there may be an incident that may be related … where a male Asian suspect walked into a dance hall … with a firearm and some individuals wrestled the firearm away from him. That individual took off … Some witnesses in that area are describing a white cargo van, we don’t know if … it’s connected,” Robert Luna said, referring to a second possible scene in neighboring Alhambra which may have taken place approximately 17min after the Monterey Park shooting occurred.

Authorities “should be” releasing a better description of the suspect in the “next few hours”, said Robert Luna, Los Angeles county sheriff.

Luna added that investigators believe that the suspect is between 30 and 50 years old.

“It is important that we be there for them and to provide the support they need in a time of healing,” Henry Lo, mayor of Monterey Park, said of the victims and their families at Sunday morning’s press conference.

In addition to 10 fatalities, 10 other victims were injured in the shooting and their current conditions vary from “stable” to “critical,” police said.

Authorities: Preliminary description of the suspect is an Asian male

The suspect in the shooting has been described preliminarily by authorities as a “male Asian,” according to Los Angeles County sheriff Robert Luna.

A dance studio in neighboring Alhambra announced that it will be closed for today.

In an Instagram post, Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio Inc wrote, “In observance of the tragedy at Star Dance last night, Lai Lai will be closed today. Tea and night dances are suspended until further notice. Lai Lai will reopen Monday for lessons only. As an extra precaution, all students and teachers are subject to search prior to entering the studio. Our prayers go out to all the victims families.”

It remains unclear whether there is a connection between Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio Inc and Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, where the shooting occurred.

California governor Gavin Newsom has condemned Saturday night’s shooting and said that authorities are closely monitoring the situation.

“Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence. Our hearts mourn as we learn more about the devastating acts of last night. We are monitoring the situation closely,” he said on Twitter.

Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence.

Our hearts mourn as we learn more about the devastating acts of last night. We are monitoring the situation closely.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 22, 2023

There was a second incident in the night in Alhambra, which is very close to Monterey Park, east of Los Angeles, where a mass shooting last night killed 10, with the suspect on the loose.

Local reports bring news that the authorities believe both incidents are related and the second incident also took place at a ballroom, like the shooting at the Star ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park.

Investigators were at both scenes overnight and a local report says the scene in Alhambra was cleared very early this morning and no injuries were reported at that location.

We are waiting for a police press conference, due at 11am US eastern time today, where hopefully there will be more detail released about all of this frightening news.

Local ABC Seven reports that: Monterey Park is a small community of approximately 61,000 people, and it’s a predominantly Asian American community. The city was hosting the Monterey Park Lunar New Year Festival this weekend, marking the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar. The annual two-day street festival is widely attended, with previous celebrations drawing as many as 100,000 daily visitors, according to the city. Saturday’s events were scheduled to finish at 9 . The festival has been canceled for Sunday.

Law enforcement at the scene of a shooting on January 22, 2023 in Monterey Park, California. Ten people have been shot dead during at a gathering celebrating the Chinese lunar new year.
Law enforcement at the scene of a shooting on January 22, 2023 in Monterey Park, California. Ten people have been shot dead during at a gathering celebrating the Chinese lunar new year. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Democrats call for greater gun safety laws

US Senate majority whip Dick Durbin has just expressed fears for the security of Asian Americans across the US in the wake of the shooting in California, as we await any news on whether the Asian American community there was deliberately targeted on the basis of race.

The Illinois Democrat also called for great gun safety laws in the US. There was new federal legislation tightening gun laws passed last year with bipartisan support, the first for decades. And many more laws have been passed at local and state level in the last five or 10 years, but Republicans in Congress still generally reject strong reforms such as a nationwide ban on military-style assault rifles being sold to the general public.

Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union politics show this morning, he said of the lunar new year parties and events that were taking place in Monterey Park yesterday: “The same celebrations are taking place her in Chicago and across the US. I’m very concerned for the Asian American population. I am hoping this is not a hate crime.”

Durbin condemned yet another mass shooting, “which sadly is uniquely American experience. It happens over and over and over again.”

He said there was “a lot” more lawmakers could do to “make our nation safer for everyone” and he slammed the US Supreme Court, now dominated by a super-majority of six conservatives, for allowing laxer gun laws and operating with a mentality towards gun safety that he was is “beyond the realm of reality.”

He lamented the public’s ease of acquiring high capacity magazines and weapons “that belong in the military.”

US Senator Dick Durbin (L), with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaks after a roundtable discussion with leaders from the Ukrainian diaspora, at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois, on January 20, 2023.
US Senator Dick Durbin (L), with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaks after a roundtable discussion with leaders from the Ukrainian diaspora, at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois, on January 20, 2023. Photograph: Kamil Krzaczyński/AFP/Getty Images

Police hunt for gunman

Local law enforcement officers in Monterey Park, California, are hunting for the suspect in the shooting in a dance studio there on Saturday night and they are assisted in the hunt by officers from the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department and federal agents from the FBI.

We are expecting a press conference by the police at 11am US eastern time today where, hopefully, they will offer more details not just about what happened but where the manhunt and the investigation are up to.

The frantic hunt for the perpetrator continues after he fled in the night. Police have said he is a man but have not given out any other details, if they have them.

US president Joe Biden has been briefed by the US homeland security department, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokeswoman, said on Twitter.

The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. 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.

— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) January 22, 2023

Monterey Park is a majority Asian American city about seven miles from downtown Los Angeles.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred,” said Los Angeles City controller Kenneth Mejia, the first Asian American to hold citywide office.

Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred. Monterey Park is home to one of the largest Asian communities in Los Angeles County and many were out celebrating the Lunar New Year.

— Kenneth Mejia, CPA (@kennethmejiaLA) January 22, 2023

Mass shooting kills 10 in California

Good morning, US live blog readers, we’re following the news breaking out of California overnight after a shooter opened fire in a dance studio near Los Angeles late on Saturday and, at latest reports, killed 10 people. Police say the gunman is on the loose. We’ll bring you developments as they happen. Here’s where things stand:

  • A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday night.

  • The tragedy took place at Monterey Park, about seven miles east of downtown LA, a small city with a large Asian American population.

  • Police say the shooter was a man and he is still at large, though they have given no further description or any information about a possible motive.

  • Captain Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles sheriff’s department said early on Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. Meyer said 10 people died at the scene.

  • Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” late Saturday when officers arrived on the scene. He said officers then went into the dance ballroom as firefighters treated the wounded.

  • Lunar New Year celebrations are planned in cities across the US and, indeed, across the world today to mark the start of the Chinese year of the rabbit. There will be huge events in Los Angeles, New York and other places today.

  • Law enforcement in Monterey Park say it’s too early to determine whether the shooting there was a hate crime against Asian Americans or whether the gunman knew any of his victims or had any connection to the dance venue where he struck.

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