Monterey Park shooting: Manhunt underway in California after 10 killed at dance club – National

Monterey Park shooting: Manhunt underway in California after 10 killed at dance club – National

A gunman who shot and killed 10 people and wounded at least 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club during a Lunar New Year celebration, is still on the run.

The suspect is an Asian male who “fled the scene and remains outstanding as of this moment,” according to County Sheriff Robert Luna of the Los Angeles Department.

On late Sunday afternoon, the department released a bulletin with photos of the suspect, who is considered to be armed and dangerous.

The suspect is said to be about 5’10” in height and weighs around 150 pounds.

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“We haven’t named him…we believe if we’re putting his name out, that will inhibit our ability to potentially arrest the suspect if he’s out there or maybe flee,” said Luna.

He did say however that there is an ongoing incident happening in the city of Torrance — a little over 28 miles from the shooting spot — involving a white box van, that may relate to the suspect. He stopped short of providing further details.

Police in tactical vehicles and bomb-squad trucks were seen surrounding a white van in a parking lot around midday Sunday. Several witnesses reported seeing the suspect flee from Alhambra in such a vehicle, according to The Associated Press.

“It’s a barricaded suspect situation, and we are working with one of our partner agencies, the Torrance Police Department, to resolve that. We believe there is a person inside of that vehicle…is that the suspect? We don’t know,” Luna said.

“But we’re going to handle that in safest manner that we possibly can and try and identify that person. Could it be our suspect? Possibly,” Luna added.

In response to a question, Luna said it was possible that the person barricaded in van is dead.

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Members of SWAT team entered the van a short time later and looked through its contents before walking away. It was unclear what they found.

Luna did not provide any description of the weapon used by the suspect, but said that the police don’t believe an assault rifle was used.

Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospital and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people, including five men and five women, who died did so at the spot in the city of Monterey Park where the shooting took place.

Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday after the shooting. He said officers then went into the ballroom and found victims as firefighters treated the wounded.

Click to play video: '10 killed, at least 10 injured in California mass shooting after Lunar New Year fest'

10 killed, at least 10 injured in California mass shooting after Lunar New Year fest

Meyer added it’s too early in the investigation to say if the gunman knew anyone at the ballroom or whether it was a hate crime.

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“We will look at every angle,” Meyer said. The sentiment was echoed by Luna at Sunday’s press conference.

Police are also investigating a similar incident at Lai Lai Ballroom in the nearby city of Alhambra that took place about 20 to 30 minutes after the Monterey Park shooting.

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According to Luna, the two events could be related though it’s not quite clear yet.

“We’re not quite there yet…It’s definitely on our radar…a male Asian suspect walked into a dance hall and he walked in there with a firearm. And some individuals wrestled the firearm away from him. And the individual took off,” he said.

Saturday’s shooting happened in the heart of downtown Monterey Park where red lanterns decorated the streets for the Lunar New Year festivities. A police car was parked near a large banner that proclaimed: “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”

Click to play video: 'Monterey Park shooting: Chief talks police presence, security at Lunar New Year celebrations'

Monterey Park shooting: Chief talks police presence, security at Lunar New Year celebrations

The Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park is one of California’s largest and attracted tens of thousands throughout the day. Most of the residents of Monterey Park, a city of about 60,000 people that sits at the eastern edge of Los Angeles, are Asian immigrants from China or first-generation Asian Americans.

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Two days of festivities, which have been attended by as many as 100,000 people in past years, were planned. But officials canceled Sunday’s events following the shooting.

The tragedy marked the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year. It is also 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.

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The database also shows that 2022 was 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.

The White House said that President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation by Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

“The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. He directed her to make sure that the FBI is providing full support to local authorities, and to update him regularly today as more details are known.”

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Attorney General Merrick Garland was also briefed, said Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson.

The shooting occurred at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a few blocks from city hall on Monterey Park’s main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls full of small businesses, whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened regularly in the city.

The business offered dance lessons from Tango to Rumba to the Fox Trot, and rented its space for events. On Saturday, its website said it was hosting an event called “Star Night” from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

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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 a friend was in a bathroom at the dance club 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 the shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately with a long gun.

Meanwhile, condolences have poured in from prominent leaders for victims of the shooting and their families.

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his heart breaks for those impacted.

“My heart breaks for the people of Monterey Park, California–whose Lunar New Year celebrations were violently attacked and whose lives have been forever changed,” said Trudeau in a tweet.

American singer-songwriter Malynda Hale also expressed her devastation on Twitter and sent her love to the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

“People can’t even have holidays and cultural celebrations without fear of being targeted and gunned down,” said Hale.

U.S. Congressman Andy Kim said that he “hopes everyone can find comfort in the renewal of the new year.”

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— With files from The Associated Press