California faces third massacre in 8 days

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) — In the wake of the worst massacre in Los Angeles County history, the California governor was meeting with shooting victims at the hospital when he was taken out and told of a shooting massive at the other end of the state. .

News that a gunman had killed seven people at mushroom farms along a scenic stretch of Northern California coastline came just hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke of his fatigue and frustration with mass shootings.


what you need to know

  • In Monterey Park, 11 people were killed and nine wounded when a gunman fired up a ballroom in an Asian-American community that had been celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve Saturday night.
  • The Half Moon Bay killings came less than 48 hours later, when a gunman shot five people at Mountain Mushroom Farm and then drove to nearby Concord Farms and fatally shot three other people.
  • A week earlier, at least two assailants shot and killed a 16-year-old mother clutching her 10-month-old baby and killed four others in a brazen attack in a central California farming community that went unsolved.
  • The recent murders moved California five spots to 26th in the number of fatal mass shootings per capita in the US since 2006, according to a mass murder database.
  • There have been six mass murders this year in the US, and the Monterey Park shooting was the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“I can’t keep doing them,” he told reporters early Monday in Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed in a dance studio. “Saying the same thing over and over again is crazy.”

However, Newsom was in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday to address the third mass shooting in just over a week in a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the country and the lowest gun death rates.

His voice thick with anger and emotion at times, Newsom said he consulted notes he used in previous mass shootings: the killing of 12 at a Thousand Oaks country-western bar in 2018; the murder of three and the wounding of 17 at the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival; the murder of nine workers at a San Jose rail yard in 2021.

“I started writing in ‘Monterey Park,’” Newsom said. “And now I have to write in ‘Half Moon Bay.’ What the hell is going on?”

A 66-year-old farm worker was booked on murder and attempted murder charges after shooting eight people, killing seven, in a crime authorities say was a case of workplace violence in the wealthy area. agricultural land that lies between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains.

In Monterey Park, a 72-year-old gunman fired up a dance hall in an Asian-American community that had been celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve Saturday night, injuring nine people in addition to the 11 dead. The gunman then took his own life.

A week earlier, at least two assailants shot and killed a 16-year-old mother clutching her 10-month-old baby and killed four others in a brazen attack in a central California farming community that went unsolved.

“Our hearts go out to the people of California,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday in a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders. “It’s been a tough, tough couple of days.”

Biden noted that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced an assault weapons ban and urged lawmakers to pass it.

Newsom also called for stricter gun safety laws, taking particular aim at high-capacity magazines, like the one with the dance studio gunman, and what he called “weapons of war.”

“It’s said all the time: ‘Only in the United States,’” he said. “Not. 1 in gun ownership, No. 1 in gun deaths. It’s not even complicated.”

The recent murders moved California five places to 26th in the number of fatal mass shootings per capita in the US since 2006, according to a USA TODAY / AP / Northeastern University mass murder database. The database only counts the murders of at least four people.

While California has the most fatal mass shootings, 49, including the recent three, it was 31st beforehand when adjusted for being the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists California with the seventh lowest firearm death rate in the country per 100,000 residents, based on the most recent available 2020 statistics. It is the 20th lowest lower in terms of homicide rate, which is not limited to shootings.

With back-to-back murders, detectives on both ends of the state were trying to answer the question often left unanswered in the face of senseless violence: Why?

Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna called the ballroom gunman Huu Can Tran, 72, a “mad man” and said investigators were looking into whether he had relationships with people who were shot at the Star Ballroom. Dance Studio.

Tran fired 42 rounds at the ballroom popular with older Asian Americans. She then drove to another nearby dance hall where an employee seized a modified 9mm submachine gun-style weapon from her, Luna said.

Tran fatally shot himself Sunday when officers surrounded the van he was in. He recovered a handgun from the van, which matched the descriptions of the vehicle he used to escape from the dance studio.

Piles of flowers, including dozens of yellow and white chrysanthemums, were left outside the closed doors of the studio on Tuesday. On a brick column by the gates, someone taped a piece of blue paper marked “Ban Semi-Automatic Rifles” with a Chinese translation below it.

So far, there have been six mass murders this year in the US, and the Monterey Park shooting was the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The Half Moon Bay killings came less than 48 hours later, when Chunli Zhao, 66, shot five people at the Mountain Mushroom Farm where he worked, killing four, authorities said. She then drove to nearby Concord Farms, where she once worked, and fatally shot three other people.

The victims were Asian and Hispanic, and some were migrant workers.

One of the workers killed was Marciano Martínez Jiménez, 50, his brother, Servando Martínez Jiménez, told The Associated Press. He was from the Mexican state of Oaxaca and lived in the US for 28 years.

“He was a good person,” Martínez Jiménez said in Spanish. “He was polite and kind to everyone. He never had a problem with anyone. I don’t understand why all this happened.”

The farm shootings were the largest mass murder in San Mateo County.

“We have never had one in this county with so many deaths at one scene or at one time,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Zhao was arrested after officers found him in his car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s substation.

Eamonn Allen, a spokesman for the San Mateo County sheriff’s office, declined to answer whether Zhao had a criminal record, but said “there were no specific indicators that would have led us to believe he was capable of such a thing.”

The San Francisco Chronicle, however, reported that Zhao was charged 10 years ago with threatening to split a co-worker’s head in with a knife and separately trying to suffocate the man with a pillow, according to court documents.

The two were roommates and worked at a restaurant at the time, and the man, identified as Jingjiu Wang, filed a temporary restraining order against Zhao, which was granted and is no longer in effect.

Authorities have shared little about Tran, who briefly owned a trucking business in Monterey Park from 2002 to 2004, according to California business records.

He was once arrested for illegal possession of a firearm in 1990 and had a limited criminal record, Luna said. The sheriff could not immediately say whether a firearms arrest at a time when firearms laws were different would have prevented him from owning weapons.

Tran once frequented the dance hall and another dance hall he later attacked and complained about the way he thought people treated him there, a man who identified himself as a longtime friend told The Associated Press. . Tran offered to teach the new women at both clubs how to dance for free so he would have a partner.

Tran was always suspicious and paranoid and regularly complained that people didn’t like him at clubs, according to the former friend who requested anonymity to speak about Tran because he wanted to avoid media attention.

“He always cast a doubtful eye on everything. He just didn’t trust people at all,” the friend said. “He always complained to me that the instructors…stayed away from him, and he said a lot of people were talking bad about him.”

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, ripped him off and robbed him a decade or two ago in the Los Angeles area, the police said. Hemet police spokesman Alan Reyes told The New York Times. Associated Press. Tran never returned with the documentation he promised to provide.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies searched Tran’s home Monday in a gated community for seniors in Hemet, just over an hour’s drive from the scene of the shooting. Officers found a .308 caliber rifle, an unknown number of bullets and evidence that he was making homemade firearm suppressors that muffle the sound of guns.

Newsom said he deliberately avoided news conferences in Los Angeles to meet with community residents, people wounded by gunshots and the hero, Brandon Tsay, who disarmed Tran.

While he was in Monterey Park, a teary-eyed mother drove up in his car and asked him to reassure her three daughters that everything was going to be okay. Her 8-year-old son had heard the shots and knew they weren’t firecrackers. He had not slept at night and was afraid to go to school, the mother said.

Newsom told the girl, “She’s going to get better.”

But before a group of dozens of politicians, law enforcement officers and reporters gathered in Half Moon Bay, he said he was relieved she wasn’t forcing him to lock his pinky fingers and promise like his own 8-year-old daughter would. “Because he wasn’t so sure.”

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