Lunar Park Monterey New Years Shooting Updates: Gunman at Large

Lunar Park Monterey New Years Shooting Updates: Gunman at Large

ohn Sunday, Police in Torrance, Ca. a white van that may be linked to the mass shooting swarmed in Monterey Park, Ca, more than 13 hours after the mass shooting that left ten people dead and ten others injured after the Lunar New Year festival in Monterey Park, California, on Saturday night.

The SWAT team operation that blocked the white van that authorities said may have been involved in the shooting completed i in the early afternoon, according to a tweet from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Special Enforcement Bureau, but no additional details were provided.

Officials have not confirmed whether the person in the van was a suspect, or whether the barricaded vehicle is the same van that police say may be linked to the shooting.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna released images of the suspect’s gun in a tweet Sunday, asking for help in identifying an Asian male, and noted that he should be considered “armed and dangerous.”

The image shared came from a separate incident that happened nearly 20 minutes after the shooting at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, Calif., about two miles away.

Sheriff Luna said he could not confirm 100% whether the two incidents were related, however, during a second briefing on Sunday.

During a press conference Sunday morning, Luna only gave a broad description of the gunman, but also noted that authorities had received different descriptions of the suspect. Luna still encouraged residents to go out and enjoy the Lunar New Year events.

“We are here to tell you that we are using every resource to arrest this suspect, in what we believe to be the worst cases in the county,” Luna said at the press conference.

The shooting happened around 10:20pm. in the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue in the city of about 60,000 people nine miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The population of Monterey Park is about 66% Asian American, and about half of that population is of Chinese descent. There are many noodle shops and other businesses that cater to the Chinese American community in the area where the shooting took place.

“It’s hard to believe that [this] happened here in Monterey Park,” Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo said at the briefing. “I want to make sure that the public can be assured that our police department will continue to work every day to protect the safety of everyone.”

Here’s what we know so far.

Frederic J. Brown - AFP / Getty Images

Frederic J. Brown – AFP / Getty Images

Frederic J. Brown – AFP/Getty ImagesLA County Sheriff’s Department homicide bureau captain Andrew Meyer briefs the media in Monterey Park, California, on January 22, 2023.

what happened

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not released many details about the shooting. They were called at 10:22 pm to reports of shots being fired in the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue.

The shooting is believed to have happened at a dance studio and ballroom, according to CNN. The sheriff’s department has not released the name of the business, however.

“When officers arrived on scene, they saw numerous individuals, patrons … pouring out of the location, screaming,” sheriff’s Capt. Andrew Meyer said at a press conference early Sunday morning.

Officers then entered the business and found several other shooting victims. The Monterey Park Fire Department arrived and announced that ten people, five men and five women, were dead at the scene. At least 10 other people were taken to local hospitals, some in critical condition. The victims have not yet been identified and no other information has been released.

Seung Won Choi, owner of a seafood barbecue restaurant across from where the shooting took place, told the Los Angeles Times that three people ran into his restaurant and asked him to lock the door. He alleged that the shooter had multiple rounds of ammunition and reloaded his gun after running away.

Sheriff Luna said police had not yet identified the weapon, but confirmed authorities did not believe it was an assault rifle.

Edwin Chen, who grew up in the area, says he rushed over from Woodland Hills when he heard the news. “This was supposed to be a happy time,” he said. “I want to know as much as possible. He’s still scared.”

Police have not yet confirmed that the fatal shooting was related to another incident that occurred nearly 20 minutes later at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, Calif., about two miles from the shooting.

In Alhambra, officers are still interviewing multiple witnesses, but believe the suspect entered the ballroom with a gun before bystanders “discharged the firearm.” The suspect then took off, Luna said at the press conference. Witnesses also identified a white cargo van surrounded by police in Torrance on Sunday morning. Multiple shots were fired, according to the LA Times.

The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office is working with the sheriff’s department’s homicide bureau, Monterey Park Police, as the investigation continues.

This is the 33rd straight mass shooting this year, and the fifth mass shooting murder, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

A law enforcement helicopter hovers over Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Jan. 22, 2023. (Jae C. Hong-AP)

A law enforcement helicopter flies over Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Jan. 22, 2023.

Jae C. Hong—AP

What do we know about the gunman?

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office released photos of the alleged gunman Sunday afternoon, noting that investigators have identified him as a homicide suspect who should be considered armed and dangerous.

The suspect was described as an Asian man between 30-50 years of age. Police say he was wearing a black leather jacket, beanie, and glasses at the time of the shooting.

Meyer said investigators have no information about a possible motive for the shooting. “We will be looking at all angles,” he said.

When asked if this event would be labeled a hate crime, Sheriff Luna said it could be. “We don’t know if this is a legally defined hate crime, but walking into a dance hall and gunning down 20 people,” he said Sunday morning.

Officials are not yet releasing the suspect’s name but said it is a “priority” to arrest the person in the picture and are asking residents who recognize the man to provide tips. “We believe that if we put his name out there it will hinder our ability to catch the suspect if he is out there, or possibly fleeing. So please be patient with us,” Luna said at a midday briefing on Sunday.

What do we know about the celebration of the festival

The shooting happened a block away from the city’s Lunar New Year Celebration – one of the largest in Southern California. The event, which was to last until Sunday, has attracted more than 100,000 visitors a day in previous years. This year, the event kicked off on Saturday with a carnival ride, traditional lion and dragon dancers and vendors unique to the event.

Thousands of guests had already gathered at the event on Saturday, which was to last until 9 pm

LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who attended the city’s first Lunar New Year celebration since the pandemic, noted that the celebration would draw families back to Monterey Park year after year. “Seeing hundreds of thousands of people on Garvey [Ave.], knowing that people could come out after the pandemic to celebrate and see the family,” she said. “This was a welcoming place.”

The city has now canceled the festival. Sheriff Luna noted that all Lunar New Year events in the area would have extra security. LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted that there would be additional patrols in place throughout the Asian communities and that the department would meet with the organizers of the events.

“I encourage people to go out and enjoy the events,” Luna said during a press conference on Monday.

Local residents watch as police investigate the scene of a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, on January 22, 2023. (Robyn Beck-AFP/Getty Images)

Local residents watch as police investigate a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, on January 22, 2023.

Robyn Beck – AFP/Getty Images

What was the reaction to the shooting?

Monterey City Park announced it would cancel the second day of its Lunar New Year festival, scheduled for Sunday, January 22, in response to the shooting. “The City extends its condolences to the individuals, families and friends who were injured in this tragic incident,” she said in a statement Sunday morning.

A victim resource center has been established at the Langley Senior Citizen Center for survivors and victims’ families. Officials ask anyone who is unable to locate a family member to contact the center for assistance.

President Joe Biden is aware of the shooting and was briefed by Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, according to his tweet by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Biden also ordered the FBI to provide “full support” to the local police force.

The Gov said Gavin Newsom said his heart was crying as he learned more about last night’s tragedy. “Lunar New Year in Monterey Park should be a joyous night of celebration,” tweeted Newsom on Sunday morning. “Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence.”

Rep. Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park, said she is “following the situation closely.”

“My heart is broken for the victims, their families, and the people in my hometown of Monterey Park who were affected by the mass shooting that happened during the night of the Lunar New Year celebration,” Chu said on Twitter.

Diamond Bar, California Mayor Andrew Chou also tweeted about the incident on Sunday.

“Our prayers are with our friends and colleagues in the great city of Monterey Park,” Chou wrote. “We stand ready to lend our support during this difficult time as we await more confirmed details of the alleged mass strike incident.”

Mayor Sasha Renee Perez of Alhambra, where a potentially related incident took place, expressed similar support. “Our community is ready to do everything we can to support all those who have been affected,” she said tweeted.

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Write to Simmone Shah at simmone.shah@time.com.

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