MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) — A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the fifth mass killing in the U.S. this month.
Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people died at the scene in the city of Monterey Park.
Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He said officers then went into the ballroom and found victims as firefighters treated the wounded.
Meyer gave no description of the male suspect or the weapon he used, or why police gave no information on the shooting for hours while the shooter remained on the run. He also said police were investigating another incident in the nearby city of Alhambra to see whether it was connected.
Meyer said it’s too early in the investigation to know if the gunman knew anyone at the ballroom or if it was a hate crime or not. He gave no other details.
The Lunar New Year celebration had attracted thousands.
Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people that sits at the eastern edge of Los Angeles. The majority of its residents are Asian immigrants or their descendants, most of them Chinese. The dance studio in downtown Monterey Park is just a few blocks from city hall on its main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls that are full of small businesses whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened in the city.
The tragedy marked not just the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year but also is the deadliest since May 24, 2022 – when 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. The database also shows that 2022 was also one of the worst years ever in terms of mass killings, with 42 such attacks – the second-highest number since the creation of the tracker in 2006. The database defines a mass killing as four people killed not including the perpetrator.
The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.
Seung Won Choi, who owns the Clam House seafood barbecue restaurant across the street from where the shooting happened, told The Los Angeles Times that three people rushed into his business and told him to lock the door.
The people said to Choi that there was a shooter with a gun who had multiple rounds of ammunition on him.
Wong Wei, who lives nearby, told The Los Angeles Times that his friend was in a bathroom at the dance club that night when the shooting started. When she came out, he said, she saw a gunman and three bodies.
The friend then fled to Wei’s home at around 11 p.m., he said, adding that his friends told him that the shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately with a long gun.
The celebration in Monterey Park is one of the largest Lunar New Year events in Southern California. Two days of festivities were planned but officials canceled Sunday’s events following the shooting.
Associated Press writer Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.