Mass Murders in California. 44 hours. 19 dead.


Forty-four hours in America. Three mass shootings. Nineteen lives gone. Everything in California.

The victims in the Monterey Park suburb included people between the ages of 57 and 76 who celebrated the Lunar New Year at a dance studio in the heart of the city’s Asian-American community on Saturday night.

Then it happened again.

Before authorities had released all their names, another seven people were shot dead in a rural coastal town in Northern California on Monday afternoon. The victims were immigrant workers working the land on a mushroom farm, where some also lived in mobile homes and trailers.

And then again, this time in Oakland.

Communities in cities and towns across the US are being turned upside down nearly every day as mass shootings in workplaces, schools and places of worship become commonplace.

Gov. Gavin Newsom was at a hospital with victims of the Monterey Park massacre Monday when he was pulled away to a briefing on the Half Moon Bay shooting.

“Tragedy upon tragedy,” Newsom tweeted.

The Democrat could have been referring to the opening weeks of 2023 in America, which has already suffered 40 mass shootings that month — more than any other start of the year on record.

A few threads connected the violence in California – elderly Asian shooters in two of the cases, many victims were Asian Americans, as well as proximity and time. The greatest common denominator, however, is an epidemic of gun violence that the United States cannot seem to eradicate.

“Only in America,” Newsom said of the bloodshed. “The devastation can sometimes be felt for generations. Communities are torn apart. Nobody feels safe.”

What motivated the Saturday night shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park is still unclear.

The city’s mostly Asian community had gathered on Lunar New Year’s Eve when 72-year-old Huu Can Tran opened fire, authorities said.

A search of the suspected shooter’s home turned up “hundreds of rounds” of ammunition and evidence leading officers to believe he “made homemade firearm silencers,” according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

The gunman fired 42 rounds from a semi-automatic pistol in the dance hall before heading to a second dance studio in the nearby Alhambra, where a civilian attacked him and grabbed the gun, Luna said.

“For many of our Asian American communities, the Lunar New Year is the most important and celebrated holiday we have,” said Connie Chung Joe, CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “We get together with families. We eat well. We have parades. (The shooting) is tantamount to someone being gunned down in a Christmas Day parade in many parts of America.

Eleven people died.

The victims were identified as Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hong Ying Jian, 62; Lilian Li, 63; Mymy Nhan, 65; Muoi Dai Ung, 67; and Diana Man Ling Tom, 70; Wen-Tau Yu, 64; Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68; Ming Wei Ma, 72; Yu Lun Kao, 72; and Chia Ling Yau, 76.

Tran was found dead less than a day later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a white van about 30 miles away in Torrance, the sheriff said. Authorities said he was familiar with the dance hall.

It’s unclear why he targeted the mostly elderly Asian-American guests during a celebration.

“It’s the year of the rabbit, a symbol of peace and hope,” said Mike Fong, a California State Assemblyman. “And to shatter that peace and that hope in moments… is unfathomable.”

On Monday afternoon, California Rep. Marc Berman, a Democrat, was meeting with colleagues on the steps of the State Capitol for a vigil for the victims of the Monterey Park shooting when he learned of the farm massacre.

“Before we’ve even had a chance to mourn her, there’s another mass shooting – this time in Half Moon Bay. In my district”, he tweeted.

California Sen. Josh Becker, a Democrat representing San Mateo County, told CNN that colleagues at the vigil, after learning about Monday’s shooting, were asked, “What else can we do?”

Becker added, “We are proud that California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. But I gotta tell you, it doesn’t matter if there’s seven deaths in your own community, if there’s… 11 deaths in Monterey Park. It does not matter.”

Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo said his community was still processing the violence and mourning the victims as news of the Half Moon Bay shooting broke.

“I know exactly what they’re going through,” he said. “It was an awkward, eerie deja vu.”

He added, “In their church, like in Monterey Park, there is unbelief. Why is this happening? And shock and just sadness at a tragedy, loss of life and more violence.”

Chunli Zhao, 66, who is suspected of killing four people at a mushroom farm in California Monday and three others at a nearby compound, was an employee of the farm, according to San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus.

Zhao was taken into custody Monday while parked in his vehicle at a sheriff’s substation with a semi-automatic handgun.

According to Corpus, evidence points to “workplace violence”.

According to a company spokesman, Zhao lived on the property where four of the victims were killed.

There are three mobile homes and six caravans on the property for around 35 employees. Zhao began working on the farm before a company called California Terra Garden acquired it, spokesman David Oates said. The farm owners bring in grief counselors for the employees.

“We know some of the victims were Chinese, the perpetrator was Chinese and this was an agricultural community. They were farm workers,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose said Tuesday.

Officials in San Mateo County found four dead and one injured at the mushroom farm. Moments later, three other people were found dead near a trucking facility about two miles away, county officials said. Authorities were alerted to the shooting around 2:20 p.m. Monday.

“We believe he had the opportunity to hurt other people, but he had targeted individuals that he was stalking and stalking,” Corpus told CNN, referring to the suspect. She said the suspect was not known to local law enforcement before the shooting and had legal possession of a semi-automatic weapon registered to him.

“This is one of those problems where unfortunately someone freaked out and innocent people got killed,” the sheriff said.

Authorities said some of the shootings may have been witnessed by children.

On Wednesday, the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office released the names of six of the seven victims: Yetao Bing, 43; Qizhong Cheng, 66; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50; Aixiang Zhang, 74; Jingzhi Lu, 64; and Zhishen Liu, 73.

Hours after the Half Moon Bay shooting, the bloodshed continued.

One person was killed Monday night in the Bay Area city of Oakland. Seven others were injured and taken to hospital in stable condition, local police said.

Officers responded to an alert from a ShotSpotter, gunshot detection technology, just after 6 p.m., the Oakland Police Department said. They found “several housings” but no victims. During the investigation, the officials learned that, according to the police, there had been a shootout between several people.

Then several hospitals began alerting police that they had received several patients with gunshot wounds who had taken themselves to emergency rooms.

Up to 50 people were filming a music video when “shots erupted from multiple gunmen in different directions,” city acting police chief Darren Allison said.

It was a “targeted shooting,” and investigators are investigating “the possibility of a gang or group connection to this incident,” Allison said.

Across much of California this week, frightened residents have been left in grief and searching for answers.

Maksym Kapitanchuk, who was a dance teacher to 65-year-old Mymy Nhan, one of the victims of the Lai Lai Ballroom shooting, said some elderly residents have come forward to return to the dance floor.

“I know for a fact that this kind of violence will not crush them,” Kapitanchuk said. “You will fight to the end.”


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