Authorities on Sunday released photos of the suspect in a shooting rampage that left 10 people dead at a dance club after a Lunar New Year celebration in this predominantly Asian American community.
“Investigators have identified him as a homicide suspect and he should be considered armed and dangerous,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in an Instagram post. It shows a man in glasses and a knit cap, saying he is about 5-feet-10-inches and about 150 pounds wearing a black leather jacket.
Sheriff Robert Luna, speaking at briefing Sunday, said the suspect may have tried to shoot up another club a few miles away but was fought off by patrons.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the first shooting at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park was reported at 10:22 p.m. Saturday. Within minutes police officers from a nearby police station swept into the area. The fatalities included five men and five women, Luna said. Ten survivors were rushed to the hospital, some in critical condition, he said.
Luna said investigators were probing whether an attempted shooting 20 minutes later at a ballroom in Alhambra, a few miles north of Monterey Park, was connected. Patrons wrestled a gun, which was not an assault rifle, from a suspect who fled in a van, he said.
“We believe that there’s an incident that may be related,” Luna said of the Alhambra incident. “It’s definitely on our radar screen.”
The shooting was the nation’s deadliest since 24 people were killed in a Texas school in May.
►The site of the Alhambra shooting, the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio, was quiet Sunday. A sign said it was closed in observance of the “Star Dance tragedy.”
►A helicopter was sweeping over the Monterey Park on Sunday amid tight security – a bicyclist tried to ride through the crime scene but police chased and tackled him.
►GoFundMe said it’s trust and safety team was monitoring the charitable giving platform for verified fundraisers trying to help the victims and their families.
►California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that he was monitoring the shooting investigation. “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.”
Police in Torrance, California, have surrounded a white van that reportedly could be involved in the Monterey Park shooting. Torrance is about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park.
Monterey Park is a city of 60,000 people about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The shooting took place shortly after a Lunar New Year celebration brought thousands of people to the city, where many shops feature signs in English and Chinese. A “very preliminary” description indicated the shooter was a male Asian between the ages of 30 and 50, he said, adding that “we’ve gotten different descriptions of one suspect. Please be patient with us.” Luna said officials expect to release a better description of the shooter in the next several hours.
Luna described the case as “one of the county’s most heinous cases.” He was asked whether the case was a hate crime.
“We don’t know if this is specifically a hate crime defined by law, but who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?” Luna said. “The description we have is a male Asian. Does that matter? I don’t know. I can tell you everything is on the table.”
Monterey Park, USC museum cancel fests citing ‘abundance of caution’
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said the second day of the two-day Lunar New Year celebration set for Sunday has been canceled “out of an abundance of caution and reverence for the victims.”
The University of Southern California’s Pacific Asia Museum, a few miles from the shooting site, canceled its Lunar New Year Festival scheduled for Sunday “in light of the devastating news of the deadly mass shooting in neighboring Monterey Park.” USC is less than 15 miles west of the shooting site. The museum, which described itself as a “haven” for the area’s Asian American community, also cited an “abundance of caution.”
“All of us at USC PAM are heartbroken to hear about the horrific violence that happened in our home in the San Gabriel Valley,” said museum director Bethany Montagano in a statement. “Our hearts mourn with the victims’ families and our community members.”[VIA]