MONTEREY PARK (CNS) – Ten people have been killed and at least 10 others were wounded in a mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park and the shooter was at large, authorities said today.
It occurred at 10:22 p.m. Saturday at the Star Dance Studio on the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue, sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Capt. Andrew Meyer told reporters at the scene during an early morning news conference.
Ten people were pronounced dead at the scene and the 10 injured were listed in stable to critical condition at area hospitals including Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, Meyer said.
When Monterey Park police officers arrived they saw numerous patrons pouring out of the business, screaming, Meyer said.
The suspect was described as male, and a firearm was used, Meyer said. He fled the scene.
No description was given of the shooter or the weapon.
Detectives will review surveillance video and “work every lead in the case,” he said.
The motive for the attack was not yet known. “We will look at every angle as to whether it was a hate crime or not,” Meyer said.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives were also in nearby Alhambra investigating a reported shooting attempt at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in the 100 block of South Garfield Avenue to determine whether the two incidents were connected.
A news videographer at the scene in Alhambra said people at the business were able to disarm the male suspect, who fled the scene, and no injuries were reported.
The Monterey Park shooting occurred about an hour after thousands of people had been in the area for the first day of a two-day Lunar New Year festival that had ended before the shots were fired. Most of the crowds had already left the area.
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese told reporters the second day of the event scheduled for Sunday has been canceled “out of an abundance of caution.”
Officials with the city of Monterey Park confirmed the cancellation of the festival’s second day, and also lamented the violence in their community.
“As a precaution and for the safety of everyone, the City regrets to announce the cancellation of the second day of the festival, which was scheduled for today, Sunday, January 22.
“The City of Monterey Park is saddened to announce that there was a shooting incident that occurred at 122 West Garvey in the City of Monterey Park late on Saturday, January 21. The City expresses condolences to the individuals, families, and friends who were injured in this tragic incident. Even though the incident did not occur at the 2023 Lunar New Year Festival, an active investigation is currently underway and the area near and around the festival is affected.”
Witnesses at the scene told the Los Angeles Times that a heavily armed man entered Monterey Park dance studio Saturday and opened fire.
Seung Won Choi, who owns a seafood barbecue restaurant across the street from the shooting site said three people rushed into his restaurant and told him to lock the door because a man with a semiautomatic gun was in the area, the Times reported.
They told Choi the shooter had multiple rounds of ammunition and was able to reload his weapon, according to the paper.
Video from the scene showed first responders from other jurisdictions helping their Monterey Park counterparts. Patrol vehicles from Alhambra and El Monte were observed as well as an ambulance from South Pasadena.
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the FBI are also assisting with the investigation.
Early Sunday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden is monitoring the situation.
“The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park,” Jean-Pierre tweeted. “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.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also shared his thoughts on Twitter.
“Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year,” Newsom tweeted. “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.
Congresswoman Judy Chu also tweeted about the mass shooting in one of
the communities she represents.
My heart is broken for the victims, their families, and the people of my hometown Monterey Park who were impacted by the mass shooting that took place during a night of Lunar New Year celebrations,” Chu tweeted. “I am closely following the situation.”
Mayors from neighboring cities tweeted their support for Monterey Park after hearing about the mass shooting.
“The reports coming out of Monterey Park are absolutely devastating,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass tweeted. “Families deserve to celebrate the holidays in peace — mass shootings and gun violence are a plague on our communities. As investigations determine whether these murders were motivated by Asian hate, we continue to stand united against all attempts to divide us. My heart goes out to Monterey Park, and the families and friends of those lost.”
“I am in a state of shock, heartbreak and devastation,” Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renee Perez said on Twitter. “A mass shooting has occurred in our neighboring City of Monterey Park. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones. Our community stands ready to do whatever we can to support all those impacted.
To have this tragedy occur on Lunar New Year weekend, makes this especially painful,” Perez added. “Monterey Park is home to one of the largest #AAPI communities in the country. This is a time when residents should be celebrating with family, friends and loved ones – not fearing gun violence.”
Diamond Bar Mayor Andrew Chou tweeted: “Our prayers are with our friends and colleagues in the great city of Monterey Park. We stand ready to lend our support during this difficult time as we wait for more confirmed details of an alleged mass shooting incident.”
Others who support or have ties to the Southland’s Asian communities also shared their thoughts about the shooting.
Officials with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders tweeted: “As millions come together to celebrate the Lunar New Year, we are devastated by news of yet another mass shooting in America. Our team is monitoring the situation in Monterey Park, California. We grieve for the families whose loved ones were killed and wounded in the attack.”
“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred,” Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia tweeted. “Monterey Park is home to one of the largest Asian communities in Los Angeles County and many were out celebrating the Lunar New Year. Monterey Park is home to one of the largest Asian communities in Los Angeles County and many were out celebrating the Lunar New Year.”
“Just heard the horrifying news out of Monterey Park, CA. A whole community wracked by gun violence and death, on what should have been a joyous Lunar New Year celebration, ” Actor George Takei wrote on Twitter. “No motive is yet known. But we must act to end the ability of murderers to take so many lives so brutally.”
Saturday’s shooting was the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County since a disgruntled ex-husband killed 10 people, including himself, in Covina in 2008.
Monterey Park has a population of about 61,000, roughly 66% of whom are Asian. Witnesses said several of Saturday’s victims were senior citizens who appeared to be Asian.
About 50% of Alhambra’s population of nearly 82,000 is Asian.
Hate crimes targeting Asians increased by 339% nationwide in 2021, the
Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reported.
Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to call sheriff’s homicide detectives at 323-890-5500 or leave anonymous tips on the Crime Stoppers line at 800-222-8477.
Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.