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Asian Community Grieving After Lunar New Year Shooting in Monterey Park

The first Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park since before the epidemic began with a happy start as enormous crowds filled the streets of the community near Los Angeles with a majority of Chinese Americans for live entertainment, carnival games, and lots of food.

However, disaster struck Saturday night as a shooter entered a ballroom dancing venue and started shooting, leaving 10 dead, 10 injured, and frightened revelers running into the streets.

The planned two-day celebration to ring in the Year of the Rabbit, which featured dragon dancers marching through downtown streets decked with red lanterns, came to a shocking conclusion with the shooting that left five men and five women dead.

Sunday’s events were postponed, although there were still some Lunar New Year celebrations in nearby communities with sizable Asian American populations.

Police officers stand outside a ballroom dance club in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. A mass shooting took place at a dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Police in locations from San Francisco to New York increased security during Lunar New Year events after the killing shocked Asian American communities across the country.

Authorities said the suspect was a 72-year-old Asian man, but no motive for the crime has been disclosed. According to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, the man committed suicide on Sunday as law enforcement agents closed in on the van he was using to flee.

Several residents react as they stand near a ballroom dance club in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. A mass shooting took place at a dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

However, advocacy groups for Asian Americans claimed it was just another setback following years of prominent anti-Asian violence across the nation.

Asian-American communities of all kinds, including those of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino origin, can be found in the San Gabriel Valley.

Investigators are seen outside Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. A mass shooting took place at the dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Nearly 70% of Monterey Park’s 60,000 population are Asian, largely of Chinese ancestry, and the city is located on the eastern outskirts of Los Angeles. After Fredric Hsieh, a real estate magnate, purchased land and publicized the region’s rolling hills and pleasant temperature in Chinese-language periodicals, the area attracted Asian immigrants during the 1970s and 1980s.

The city now hosts one of California’s biggest Lunar New Year celebrations. It is a Chinese ritual that everyone likes and shows the variety of greater Los Angeles, according to Sanchez, a Mexican American.

An investigator carries markers outside Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. A mass shooting took place at the dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the fifth mass killing in the U.S. this month. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The celebrations were postponed, but several other activities took place throughout the area, including a march in Westminster, which was still held but under increased protection.

On Garvey Avenue, the main highway of Monterey Park, the dance studio where the shooting took place is situated. Garvey Avenue is studded with strip malls of tiny companies, with signage in both English and Chinese. Chinese holidays are observed, Cantonese and Mandarin are commonly spoken, and the city frequently hosts screenings of Chinese movies.

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