10 Dead in Lunar New Year’s Eve Mass Shooting in Monterey Park
The gunman was found dead in a Torrance parking lot the following day.
Updated 7:30P.M., January 22, 2023.
The gunman who killed 10 and wounded 10 others in a shooting in Monterey Park on Saturday, January 21, has been found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man (who Knock LA is not naming) opened fire at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio near a Lunar New Year celebration.
At 10:20 AM Sunday morning, Torrance Police Department officers found and stopped a white utility van matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle. The white van entered the Del Amo shopping center parking lot and stopped. As two officers walked up to the van, a single gunshot was heard, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.
After a standoff lasting just over two hours, a Special Enforcement Bureau team, also known as SWAT, worked to clear the van. Officers discovered the suspect in the passenger seat. He was declared deceased at the scene.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said at a press conference that the deceased victims were five men and five women. Seven survivors are still hospitalized.
Sheriff Luna said that the crisis resource center will remain open at the Langley Senior Center for families and victims impacted by the shooting.
At 10:22 PM on Saturday evening, the Monterey Police Department received calls of shots fired, according to Chief Scott Wiese. The department’s headquarters is less than a half mile from the scene of the shooting. Wiese said at a press conference officers were able to respond in three minutes.
Between 17 and 20 minutes after the Star Ballroom Dance Studio shooting, Luna says the man walked into the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in nearby Alhambra with a gun. He was wrestled to the ground in Alhambra and disarmed, then fled. Police believe the incidents are connected. The business is about a nine-minute drive from the scene of the Monterey Park shooting.
Sheriff Luna confirmed Sunday that the man in the white van was the suspect in the Monterey Park shooting and the attempted shooting at the Lai Lai dance studio in Alhambra.
A handgun was recovered from the van. Another weapon was recovered that Sheriff Luna described as “a magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol that had an extended, large capacity magazine attached to it.” He was disarmed of this weapon by two patrons at the Lai Lai dance studio in Alhambra. When asked if the pistol with its extended magazine was legal to own, Sheriff Luna, who has been a sworn police officer since 1985, was unable to confirm its legality. He said he is working with local agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to further research the gun’s legality and how it was obtained.
The investigation is ongoing and a motive remains unclear.
The Monterey Park shooting occurred about an hour after thousands of people had been in the area for the first day of a two-day Lunar New Year festival. Residents in the area seemed at times fearful, other times shocked.
Gabriel, who grew up in Monterey Park and lives a few blocks away, says he heard shots ring out, at first thinking the sounds of gunfire were fireworks. He’d been at the festival earlier with another resident, Amber. “I knew for a fact it was not fireworks when I heard the helicopter up above, because we never get helicopters up here,” Gabriel said.
Steve lives just blocks away from the Star Dance Studio and was watching news of the shooting in the early morning at a local laundromat. He teared up. Just a few years ago, the city of Monterey Park was rated one of the “Best Places in America to Raise a Family Now” in Money Magazine.
Sheriff Luna initially said at a press conference the suspect is a male Asian between 30 and 50 years old. That’s an incredibly broad description – especially in a city with an Asian population of 64.7%, according to census data. About an hour later, the department released a photo of the suspect.
Officials with the city of Monterey Park confirmed the cancellation of the Lunar New Year festival’s second day, and also lamented the violence in their community. But several officials, including Sheriff Luna and Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese, encouraged people to participate in regular activities, including other Lunar New Year celebrations, despite no suspect being in custody. They also thanked local police, despite the fact that a suspect had not been apprehended nearly 12 hours later.
Representative Judy Chu, who represents the city of Monterey Park in Congress, was asked why people should feel safe by a teenage reporter from Mark Keppel High School’s paper. “I think all of us should be worried about that, but I want to emphasize that we should still send our kids to school. That we should have our normal lives,” said Chu.
Alex McElvain contributed to this reporting.