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Kamala Harris to travel to Monterey Park in wake of mass shooting

A woman clasps her hands while kneeling in front of a makeshift memorial.
A woman who identified herself as Shally, and said her dance partner died in Saturday’s shooting at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, pays her respects at a makeshift memorial outside the dance hall on Tuesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Monterey Park on Wednesday to honor the victims of one of the three mass shootings that have left her home state reeling this week.

Harris will lay a wreath at a memorial in honor of the 11 people killed by a gunman at a dance studio during a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday night. She will meet with victims’ families and Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old worker who disarmed the gunman at a second dance club.

Huu Can Tran, 72, walked into the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park and opened fire, killiing 11. He then went to a second club, in Alhambra, where Tsay wrestled him to the ground and took Tran’s gun.

Police think jealously might have been the motive for the attack but emphasize that their investigation is continuing. Tran entered the Monterey Park dance hall around 10:20 p.m. and sprayed bullets from a 9-millimeter MAC-10 handgun as frightened patrons ducked for cover. Authorities recovered at least 42 spent shell casings at the scene.

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Less than two days later, as the community grieved at a candlelight vigil, seven more people were killed in a pair of shootings in Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County. A 67-year-old man is suspected of opening fire at two rural farms about a mile apart on Monday, shooting some of the victims in front of children who lived nearby and had recently been released from school. The shooting suspect, identified as Chunli Zhao, was believed to work at one of the farms. Police have not revealed a motive in those shootings.

It’s unclear whether Harris or President Biden will travel to Half Moon Bay this week, but the president will speak on the string of shootings “in the upcoming days,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.

Last week, six people were found fatally shot inside a home in Goshen, Calif. Police believe those killings could be tied to organized crime.

The series of mass shootings prompted renewed talk of gun control on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced a federal assault weapons ban on Monday that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21. The measure is unlikely to become law. It does not have enough support to survive a Senate filibuster and would face stiff resistance in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

“Our hearts are with the people of California,” Biden said during an Oval Office meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday.

The president said he had been in touch with Gov. Gavin Newsom and Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and Anna Eshoo (D-Menlo Park) to work out “a number of things that we can and are going to be doing.”

Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill in June in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left 19 students and two teachers dead. The measure — the first major gun safety bill to pass Congress in 30 years — strengthened background checks for gun buyers between the ages of 18 and 21, expanded an existing law preventing domestic abusers from purchasing a gun and helped states implement “red flag” laws to enable authorities to remove weapons from people determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

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Biden has repeatedly urged Congress to go further and reinstate an assault weapons ban that he helped pass as a senator in 1994. The ban expired in 2004. House Democrats renewed the effort and passed an assault weapons ban last year, when they still controlled the lower chamber, but the measure languished in the Senate.

Biden issued a statement praising the Feinstein-Cicilline assault weapons bill just before news broke of the Half Moon Bay shooting. In a statement released Tuesday morning, Biden repeated his call for Congress to act.

“Even as we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action,” Biden said. “I once again urge both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this Assault Weapons Ban to my desk.”

Times staff writers Salvador Hernandez, Jeong Park, Ruben Vives and Nathan Solis contributed to this report.

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