Officials in Los Angeles County held a press conference at 8:30 AM local time to provide updates on the investigation into a mass shooting in Monterey Park that left 10 dead and 10 wounded. As we reported, the shooting took place at a dance hall shortly after the first day of the community’s Lunar New Year festival ended.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna stated that investigators have received different descriptions of the perpetrator, preventing them from providing a specific description, but that the suspect is a “male Asian” with a probable age range of 30 to 50.
Luna said that they have not been able to identify the deceased victims, but that five men and five women were killed and they will be working with the coroner’s office to identify those victims and notify their families.
When asked about motive and whether it was a “hate crime,” Luna said:
Everything is on the table. We don’t know if this is specifically a hate crime as defined by law, but who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?
Witnesses have given differing descriptions of the type of gun used, Luna said, but investigators “don’t believe it was an assault rifle at this time.” Luna would not disclose the caliber of the murder weapon due to the ongoing investigation.
About 20 minutes after the shooting in Monterey Park, an armed man entered a dance hall just a few miles away in Alhambra, but individuals there were able to wrestle the gun away from him before he fled. Investigators haven’t officially linked the two incidents at this time, but, as Sheriff Luna stated, “it’s definitely on our radar screen.” The weapon seized in Alhambra is not an “assault rifle,” according to Luna, and undoubtedly ballistics tests are being performed at this time to determine if that weapon is in fact the murder weapon.
Alhambra Mayor @SashaReneePerez:
“attempted shooting at a dance hall in Alhambra shortly after the incident in Monterey Park. Fortunately no one was shot. We know that individuals at the Alhambra dance hall saw the shooter & attempted to apprehend him, taking away the firearm.”
— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) January 22, 2023
The fact that the shooting took place so soon after the Lunar New Year festival had wrapped up for the day was beneficial, since the police department had dozens of officers on duty already for that event. Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese described the initial response:
The incident, as you all know, is very close to the police station. We were just wrapping up the final shut-down of the Lunar New Year event. I had dozens of officers here throughout the day and the evening at the…event, so our response to the scene was within minutes. The initial officers that responded saw dozens of people exiting. Some were injured, some weren’t, and we handled them as they came out, began to triage that.
And my officers put together a REACT team and went inside to see if the suspect was still inside. They were probably entering that business within a minute or two of responding, and — that’s how we’ve been trained, and that’s how we respond to situations like this.
Wiese said that approximately 100,000 people attended the festival on Saturday, and that it was logistically impossible for them to screen all of the attendees for weapons.
President Biden released a statement on Twitter.
Jill and I are praying for those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park.
I’m monitoring this situation closely as it develops, and urge the community to follow guidance from local officials and law enforcement in the hours ahead.
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 22, 2023
Officials said they hoped to have another press conference with more information “in a few hours.”
UPDATE 2:20 PM EDT: Los Angeles County law enforcement authorities have boxed in a van in a mall parking lot in Torrance, California. The suspect in the Monterey Park mass shooting is possibly inside.
#Breaking: This is the scene in Torrance where SWAT has a white van surrounded and are telling the driver to roll down his window and throw out his weapon. There is a bullet hole in the windshield and we can’t see anyone moving inside. #FOXLA #MontereyPark #MassShooting @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/cgJjNAbggX
— Cristy Fajardo (@fajardonews) January 22, 2023