California upended by back-to-back deadly mass shootings

MONTEREY PARK, California, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Just two days after a gunman killed 11 people at a Los Angeles-area dance studio, seven more victims were shot dead in an agricultural area near San Francisco , as California suffered one of its bloodiest waves of mass gun violence in decades.

Authorities said they did not identify the motive for either rampage. The attacks seemed particularly puzzling, in part because the suspects in each were men of retirement age, much older than is typical for perpetrators of deadly mass shootings that have become a numbing routine in United States.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was visiting injured survivors of Saturday night’s massacre in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park when he was briefed on Monday’s killings in North America. California.

“Tragedy upon tragedy,” Newsom wrote on Twitter.

Otherwise, the back-to-back shootings seemed to have little in common.

The latest gun rampage hit the coastal town of Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, where a gunman opened fire on groups of farmworkers at two locations about a year apart. mile, leaving a total of seven dead and one seriously injured, then fled.

The accused gunman, identified as 67-year-old Chunli Zhao, was taken into custody shortly after he was found sitting in his vehicle, parked outside a sheriff’s station, where authorities said they believe he had come to surrender.

A semi-automatic handgun was found in his car, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said at an evening news conference.

Corpus said the suspect, who was “cooperating fully” with investigators after his arrest, worked at one of two crime scenes. She described the sites as agricultural “nurseries”, where some of the workers also lived. Local media reported that one site was a mushroom farm.

President Joe Biden said in a statement on Tuesday that he had been briefed by his Homeland Security team on the Half Moon Bay shooting and had directed his administration to ensure local authorities had the support of the federal government.

“While we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action,” he said, calling on Congress to reintroduce a federal ban on gun violence. assault weapons.

In a separate incident in the Bay Area that received far less attention on Monday night, one person was killed and seven injured in a “multi-person shootout” in Oakland, police said, in circumstances suggesting a case of gang violence. Police gave few details, but said the surviving victims had all gone to area hospitals.

News of the Half Moon Bay massacre surfaced as police worked through a second full day of investigating the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, just east of downtown Los Angeles, where a gunman shot dead 11 people. Nine others were injured.

Authorities said the suspect, Huu Can Tran, 72, drove past an adjacent town and broke into a second dance hall, but was confronted by the club’s operator, who retrieved the weapon in a brief fight.

Tran, himself a longtime patron of the Star Ballroom, which catered primarily to older dance fans, ran off again and disappeared overnight.

He shot and killed himself in his parked getaway vehicle, a pickup truck, on Sunday morning, about 12 hours after he ransacked it as police surrounded him in the town of Torrance, south of Los Angeles, authorities said .

DEADLY RECORD

Saturday’s violence unfolded amid a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, a hub of the Asian-American community in Southern California, initially sparking fears the attack may have been motivated by breed. The second day of the event has been cancelled.

It is the deadliest mass shooting ever seen in Los Angeles County, according to county board member Hilda Solis.

By comparison, the 1984 massacre of 21 people at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Diego is the largest loss of life from a single shooting on record in California.

The last two shootings were also notable for the age of the suspects, one in his late 60s, the other in his early 70s.

A database of 185 mass shootings between 1966 and 2022 maintained by the nonprofit Violence Project includes only one committed by someone 70 or older – a retired miner who killed five people in Kentucky in 1981.

Witnessing the firepower unleashed at the Monterey Park ballroom, investigators recovered 42 cartridge cases and a high-capacity ammunition magazine from the scene, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna told reporters Monday.

He said a search of the suspect’s mobile home at a secure seniors’ residence in the town of Hemet, 80 miles east of Los Angeles, revealed a gun, electronics and items “that lead us to believe that the suspect made his own “weapon silencer. Police also seized hundreds of cartridges from the residence and a handgun from the suspect’s vehicle.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said investigators are looking at unconfirmed reports that the violence may have been sparked by jealousy or relationship issues.

Adam Hood, who rented a house from Tran in the Los Angeles area, told Reuters its landlord loved ballroom dancing and was a regular at the Star Ballroom, although he complained others were talking in his back.

“He was suspicious of people in the studio, angry and suspicious. I think he had just had enough,” Hood said.

Reporting by Tim Reid in Monterey Park and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Rich McKay, Gabriella Borter, Brendan O’Brien, Brad Brooks, Jonathan Allen, Joseph Axe, Dan Whitcomb and Timothy Gardner; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Chizu Nomiyama

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