After the worst massacre in Los Angeles County history, California’s governor was meeting with gunshot victims at a hospital when he was called and told about a mass shooting on the other side of the state.
The news that a gunman killed seven people at mushroom farms in a scenic Northern California coastal area came hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke of his fatigue and frustration with mass shootings.
“I can’t keep doing them,” he told reporters earlier Monday in Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed at a dance studio. “Saying the same thing over and over and over again is crazy.”
Still, Newsom was in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday to make his third appearance mass shooting in just over a week in a state with the nation’s strictest gun laws and the lowest rate of gun deaths.
His voice laced with anger and emotion at times, Newsom said he was checking notes he’s used in past mass shootings: the 2018 killing of 12 people at a Thousand Oaks country and western bar; killing three and injuring 17 at the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival; the killing of nine workers at the San Jose train station in 2021.
“I started writing in ‘Monterey Park,'” Newsom said. “And now I have to write Half Moon Bay. What the hell is going on?”
A 66-year-old farmer has been charged with murder and attempted murder after he shot eight people and killed seven. Authorities called the violence a workplace in the rich agricultural area, which sits between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains.
In Monterey Park, a 72-year-old gunman opened fire at a dance hall in an Asian-American community celebrating the Lunar New Year Saturday night, wounding nine people in addition to the 11 killed. The shooter later committed suicide.
A week earlier, at least two assailants shot and killed a 16-year-old mother holding her 10-month-old baby and killed four others in a brazen attack in a central California farming community that remained unsolved.
“Our hearts are with people in California“, President Joe Biden said Tuesday at a meeting with the leaders of the Democratic Party in Congress. “They have been tough, tough days.”
Biden noted that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had introduced a ban on assault weapons, and he urged lawmakers to pass it.
Newsom also called for stronger gun safety laws and took particular aim at high-capacity magazines – like the one the gunman had in the dance studio – and what he called “weapons of damn war”.
“They keep saying, ‘Only in America,'” he said. “#1 in gun ownership, #1 in gun deaths. It’s not even difficult.”
The recent killings moved California up five spots to the 26th-highest number of fatal mass murders per capita in the U.S. since 2006, according to the USA TODAY/AP/Northeastern University Mass Homicide Database. The database only counts murders of at least four people.
Although California has the most fatal mass shootings at 49, including the most recent three, it previously ranked 31st, adjusted for being the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks California as having the 7th lowest rate of gun deaths in the country per 100,000 residents, according to the latest statistics available for 2020. It ranks 20th in terms of mortality homicide ratewhich is not limited to pictures.
With back-to-back murders, detectives on both sides of the state tried to answer the question that often goes unanswered in the face of senseless violence: Why?
Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna called the gunman at the dance hall, Huu Kang Chan, 72, “crazy” and said investigators were looking into whether he was related to the people who were shot at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.
Tran fired 42 rounds into the ballroom, which is popular with older Asian-Americans. He then drove to another nearby dance hall, where an employee wrested a modified 9mm submachine gun-style weapon from him, Luna said.
Tran shot himself to death Sunday as officers surrounded the van he was in. A gun matching the description of the vehicle in which he fled the dance studio was found in the van.
Mounds of flowers, including dozens of yellow and white mums, were left outside the studio’s closed gates on Tuesday. On a brick column next to the gate, someone taped a sheet of blue paper that said “Ban Semi-Automatic Rifles” with a translation underneath. in Chinese.
Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil at Monterey Park City Hall. Wooden hearts bore the names of the dead. One woman was helping her young daughter lay flowers at the memorials. “There are so many of them,” she said, her voice trembling. – We won’t have enough.
There have been six mass killings in the US so far this year, and the Monterey park shooting was the deadliest since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uwald, Texas.
The killings in Half Moon Bay came less than 48 hours after 66-year-old Chunli Zhao shot five people at a mushroom farm where he worked, killing four people, authorities said. He then drove to the farm where he once worked and shot three other people.
The victims were from Asia and Latin America, and some were migrant workers.
One of the workers killed was Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, his brother Servando Martinez Jimenez told The Associated Press. He was a native of the Mexican state of Oaxaca and had lived in the United States for 28 years.
“He was a good man,” Martinez Jimenez said in Spanish. “He was polite and kind to everyone. Never had a problem with anyone. Why all this happened, I do not understand.
The shooting at the farms was the largest mass killing in San Mateo County.
“This county has never had this many deaths in one place or at one time,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Zhao was arrested after officers found him in a car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s substation.
Iman Allen, a spokesman for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, declined to answer whether Zhao had criminal historybut said that “there were no specific indicators that would lead us to believe that he was capable of such a thing.”
The San Francisco Chronicle, however, reported that Zhao was accused 10 years ago of threatening to split a colleague’s head open with a knife and separately trying to suffocate a man with a pillow, according to court documents.
Authorities have said little about Tran, who owned a trucking company in Monterey Park from 2002 to 2004, according to California reports.
He was arrested once for illegal possession of a firearm in 1990 and had a limited criminal history, Luna said. The sheriff could not immediately say when a gun seizure at a time when firearms laws were different would have barred him from having a gun.
A man who identified himself as his longtime friend told the Associated Press.
According to a former friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak about Chan, Chan was always distrustful and paranoid and regularly complained that people in clubs didn’t like him because he wanted to avoid media attention.
Investigators were also looking into reports Tran made twice this month to police in the city where he lived that family members tried to poison him, cheated and stole from him a decade ago in the Los Angeles area, a spokesman said. of the Hemet Police Allan Reyes. Associated Press. Tran never returned with the documents he promised to provide.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on Monday searched Tran’s home in a gated senior community in Hemet, just over an hour’s drive away. massacre. Officers found a .308-caliber rifle, an unknown amount of ammunition and evidence that he had been making homemade firearm silencers, which muffle the sound of weapons.
Newsom said he deliberately avoided press conferences in Los Angeles to meet with community residents, injured people and the hero Brandon Tsai, who disarmed Chan.
While he was in Monterey Park, a tearful mother pulled up to her car and asked him to reassure her three daughters that everything would be okay. Her 8-year-old heard the gunfire and knew it wasn’t firecrackers. She did not sleep at night and was afraid to go to school, her mother said.
Newsom told the girl, “It’s going to get better.”
But to a group of dozens of politicians, law enforcement officials and reporters gathered in Half Moon Bay, he said he was relieved she didn’t make him snap his little fingers and make promises like his own 8-year-old daughter would. – Because I wasn’t sure.