California grapples with two mass shootings in three days

In the past 72 hours, California has been racked by back-to-back mass shootings, leaving at least 18 people dead, along with one of the suspected gunmen.

But the horror of the attacks was not limited to the toll, or the speed with which one unfurled after the other.

Californians were struggling to grapple with the specifics and the timing of the shootings. The suspects in both attacks were older Asian men, whose age and ethnicity have been rare in mass shootings. And the victims were Asian and Asian American, many who were still celebrating the Lunar New Year.

The first attack — on Saturday night in Monterey Park — caused the deaths of 11 people and injured at least 10 at a once joyous dance hall. The suspect, a 72-year-old named Huu Can Tran, was a former volunteer dance instructor there.

Many of the victims were members of the Asian and Asian American community in their 50s and 60s. They had gone to Star Ballroom Dance Studio to celebrate the holidays with a night of music and dancing. Until the gunshots rang out. Alongside the 11 who died, eight people were wounded.

Outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Sunday, a day after a gunman fatally shot 11 people.

Credit…Alisha Jucevic for The New York Times

Just 30 minutes later, the suspect went to a second location, Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, in Alhambra, Calif, where he was wrestled to the ground and disarmed by Brandon Tsay, the third-generation operator of the family-run dance hall, before escaping and running away.

The police found the suspect dead in a van, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, on Sunday afternoon, in Torrance, around 30 miles away.

Investigators are still looking into his motive, but are following a theory that he was driven by personal grievances and was “looking out for specific people for a specific reason.”

Details were still emerging of Monday’s shooting — in San Mateo County, Calif. — but this much was clear: Seven people were dead in attacks at two agricultural locations where many Asian workers toil, and one person was in the hospital. Children witnessed at least some of the bloodshed.

The suspect, Zhao Chunli, 67, was a resident of the area, Half-Moon Bay. He was found in his car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s office substation and taken into custody.

The shooting was first reported around 2:20 p.m. at two separate locations near Highway 92 in the city of Half Moon Bay. Upon arrival at the first scene, responders saw four bodies with gunshot wounds, and one person with life-threatening injuries.

Sheriff Christina Corpus of San Mateo County said in a news conference on Monday night that the suspect had acted alone, and that they had so far not determined his motive.

The two attacks were not the only mass shootings California has suffered recently. Little more than a week earlier, six people were shot dead in Tulare County, in Central California. Those victims included a 16-year-old and her 10-month-old baby.

“What a tragedy to see these innocent people lose their lives,” said Sheriff Christina Corpus on Monday evening.

Source: Ney York Times

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