Shock, fear and mourning in Monterey Park after a gunman kills 10, wounds 10 others

Orange flowers lie on a concrete barrier with an empty street behind.
Flowers are placed at Garvey Avenue and Garfield Avenue in Monterey Park near Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where 10 people were killed and 10 more were injured in a mass shooting Saturday night.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Jan. 23.

A weekend of celebration for many Asian Americans was fractured by gun violence in Monterey Park.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, a man with a firearm entered a ballroom dance studio and started shooting. Ten people were killed and 10 others were wounded. Authorities have not publicly identified the victims, only describing the people killed as five men and five women.


There are a lot of unknowns right now. That breeds confusion, speculation and inaccuracies. Here’s what The Times newsroom does know.

The shooting occurred at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, close to where tens of thousands had been celebrating the Lunar New Year in the small San Gabriel Valley city, several miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It was the first day of a two-day festival, which ended about an hour before the deadly attack.

Authorities believe the armed suspect also targeted a second dance studio in the neighboring city of Alhambra about 20 minutes after the shooting. No one was shot in that second incident.

“Some individuals wrestled the firearm from [the suspect], and that individual took off,” L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna said.

On Sunday afternoon, a SWAT team breached a van linked to the shooting in a Torrance strip mall parking lot. Authorities found a person dead in the driver’s seat from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The driver was later identified as 72-year-old Hemet resident Huu Can Tran, and police said he was the shooter.


Authorities have not yet offered a possible motive for the mass murder.

A person in a mask walks near a white van with its doors open and a window broken in a parking lot.
A coroner’s official investigates the Torrance scene where police say the Lunar New Year’s shooting suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The San Gabriel Valley is home to many residents of Asian heritage, and about 65% of Monterey Park residents identify as Asian, according to U.S. census data. As my colleagues Nathan Solis and Luke Money reported, the city has long been “a gateway for Chinese immigration.” Many residents were in the midst of celebrations meant to spark joy and excitement for new beginnings.

On Sunday, as families frantically sought answers and searched for loved ones, some residents said their sense of safety in the peaceful community has been “shattered.”

“I’ve never seen a freaking gun in Monterey Park,” Eric Ching told a Times reporter. “But it was here and it took the lives of 10 people, and another 10 are in the hospital right now fighting for their lives.”

In a news release Sunday, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) said she attended the opening of the festival earlier Saturday, just a block away from the dance studio.

“But now, Asian Americans in the Monterey Park community and nationwide are in mourning and are terrified instead of celebrating,” said Chu, who previously served as mayor and as a council member for the city.


“If there is one thing I know, it is that Monterey Park is resilient,” she added. “Our community is strong, and we will get through this terrible event together.”

A group of people stand near a crime scene, some holding phones up.
Community members watch as officials secure and investigate the scene Sunday, the morning after a gunman opened fire at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The violence compounds fear and anxiety many in the community are experiencing as crimes targeting Asians grow in California. Hate crimes against Asian Americans jumped 177.5% from 2020 to 2021, according to a state report.

As I write this from my home about six miles north of Monterey Park, waiting to learn more tragic details about yet another U.S. mass shooting, my overriding thoughts are simply: It’s happened again, closer this time, and how long until the next community is shattered?

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Recent winter storms dumped a lot of water on L.A. streets — and they’ve got the potholes to prove it. As more reports of hazardous asphalt pour in, here’s a helpful guide on how you could get money if one damages your car. LAist

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A majority of L.A. City Councilmember Kevin de León’s constituents want him out of office. That’s according to a recent Times poll of voters in L.A.’s 14th Council District, which De León has represented since October 2020. Los Angeles Times

On Friday, the L.A. City Council voted to dramatically expand tenant protections —11 days before COVID-19 anti-eviction rules were due to expire. Renter advocates had voiced fears that Angelenos would see a wave of evictions had the rules ended. Los Angeles Times

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Today’s landmark love comes from Jennifer Cano of Pasadena: The “iconic” Bay Bridge.

A large suspension bridge spans a section of the San Francisco Bay under cloudy skies.
The Bay Bridge, photographed in January 2018.
(Courtesy Jennifer Cano)

Jennifer writes:

Perhaps not as a spectacular as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge is a critical span linking eastern and southern routes into San Francisco. Its views are inspiring and the view of it from San Francisco is wonderful. The Bay Bridge is utilitarian and supports thousands of commuters on daily basis. And, it was immortalized in the classic film “The Graduate.”


What are California’s essential landmarks? Fill out this form to send us your photos of a special spot in California — natural or human-made. Tell us why it’s interesting and what makes it a symbol of life in the Golden State. Please be sure to include only photos taken directly by you. Your submission could be featured in a future edition of the newsletter.

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