Monterey Park, California:
Asian Americans are reeling Tuesday after two mass shootings in California targeting members of their community left 18 people dead – with the suspected gunmen in both cases being older men of Asian descent.
The killings took place just 48 hours apart – so close that California Governor Gavin Newsom was in a hospital meeting with the victim of the first attack when he was pulled away to be warned about the second.
“This is said all the time: only in America,” a clearly exasperated Newsom told reporters Tuesday in Half Moon Bay.
“Only in America. Number one in gun ownership. Number one in gun deaths. It’s not even complicated,” he said.
“What the hell is wrong with us, that we allow these weapons of war with large capacity clips on the streets and sidewalks?”
Another shooting happened overnight in the state of Washington, where a gunman killed three people in a convenience store, in an act that the police said appeared random.
The massacre prompted President Joe Biden to renew calls for Congress to quickly enact an assault weapons ban. A group of senators on Monday reintroduced the federal assault weapons ban and legislation that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21.
Biden also said he would send Vice President Kamala Harris to California after the shooting.
“Our hearts are with the people of California,” he said, calling the massacre “devastating.”
Investigators are still investigating the motive behind the two incidents, which stand out among the scourge of mass shootings in America both for the affected community – gun violence is usually seen as rare among Asians and Asian Americans – and for the age of the suspect. ,67 and 72.
The nonpartisan Violence Project says 79 percent of mass shooters from 1966 to 2020 were under the age of 45. It says only 6.4 percent of mass shooters during that time were Asian.
Monday’s bloodshed took place at two farms around Half Moon Bay, a rural coastal community south of San Francisco.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said Tuesday that five men and two women — a mix of Hispanic and Asian — were killed, and that 67-year-old Half Moon Bay resident Chunli Zhao had been taken into custody.
A semi-automatic handgun has been recovered.
“The only known relationship between the victim and the suspect is that they may be co-workers,” he said.
“All the evidence we have shows that this is an example of workplace violence.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reports a former co-worker has been granted a restraining order against Zhao for violent behavior.
“Mr. Zhao told me, today I am going to kill you,” Jingjiu Wang wrote in 2013 when they worked at a San Jose restaurant together.
“He then took a pillow and started covering my face and biting me.”
The small community of Half Moon Bay on Tuesday struggled to come to terms with the mass shooting.
The singing bowl held by the Buddhist monk was struck once for each of the seven people shot dead as residents gathered to mourn in a local church.
“It’s a tragedy, and it happened on New Year’s,” Aily Li, whose family owns the China House restaurant, told AFP.
Sophie Li, who works at Shiki Japanese Cuisine in the city, said the gun was scary.
“Without a gun, we just answer. But if you have a gun, it gives you more power and then something will happen,” he said.
“You deal with people with guns and you never know what’s going to happen. People get shot, right?”
The tragedy comes as detectives in southern California are still investigating what led Huu Can Tran, 72, to shoot dead 11 people who had gathered for Chinese New Year on Saturday night at a suburban dance hall.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Tran, who had been arrested decades earlier for illegal possession of firearms, fired 42 rounds in the attack in Monterey Park.
“What drives a crazy person to do this?” he said.
Luna confirmed that the officer had told Tran that he may have been known to some of his victims.
Information about Tran remains unclear. CNN reported that, according to his marriage license, he immigrated from China; The New York Times cited immigration documents saying he was a naturalized US citizen of Vietnamese origin.
A former friend described Tran as a vindictive loner.
“Two simple words that cover the whole thing: He is a distrustful person. He distrusts the people around him. The second word is hate. He hates the people around him, especially if he thinks others are doing bad to him,” said the friend, according to to the Los Angeles Times.
“He would say, ‘Someday I will come back to you, revenge, revenge.’
“I think his life is so miserable and desperate that he chooses that day to end his life and in the meantime he wants to get people he doesn’t like or hate to join him,” the man said.
(Except for headlines, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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