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A mass shooting that left no less than 10 people dead another 10 injured, took place at a ballroom dance hall in Monterey Park, California on Saturday night, authorities have said.
The suspect escaped the scene of the incident and is still on the run.
Officers from the Monterey Park Police Department responded to a 911 call on Saturday night, by 10:22 p.m. local time, about shots being fired, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press statement early Sunday morning.
Ten victims were confirmed dead at the scene, while 10 others were rushed to local hospitals in critical conditions, release said.
None of the victims could be publicly identified at the time of the incident.
During a Monday press briefing, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the fatal victims involved five women and five men.
Los Angeles Country Sheriff Robert G. Luna during a press conference described the incident as absolutely heartbreaking.
“We are all going to be hurting based on this tragedy. We are utilizing every resource to apprehend this suspect. We need to get this person off the street as soon as possible. There is a lot more that we don’t know than we know at this time.”
The suspect falls under the description of an Asian male between age 30 and 50. Luna said the motive behind the shooting cannot be immediately ascertained.
Meanwhile, authorities released photos of the suspect on Sunday.
When asked if the shooting could have been a hate crime, Luna responded, “Who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?”
Continuing, Luna said an armed man, who was believed to be the suspect, walked into a dance hall in the neighboring city of Alhambra 20 to 30 minutes after the Monterey Park shooting. The man fled as people tried to wrestle his weapons from him.
According to Luna, police believed the weapon used in the Monterey Park shooting was not a sophisticated assault rifle.
The shooting occured on the eve of the Lunar New Year, a major holiday observed by many Asian communities. Tens of thousands of people had gathered in the area earlier in the day to mark the holiday.
According to the 2020 census, Monterey Park, in Los Angeles County, which is about seven miles east of downtown Los Angeles, has a population of about 60,000 people, 65% of whom are Asian.
The city’s website states that the two-day Lunar New Year celebration in the city, features “food booths with various types of delectable items, amusement rides, and lots of live entertainment.
Out of respect for the victims and “an abundance of caution”, the event was cancelled for Sunday, Monterey Park Police Department Chief Scott Wiese announced in a news conference, NBC reports.
Expressing his grief over the incident, Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo said, “We want to express our condolences to the victims and their families. It is important for us to be there for them and provide the support they need for what will be a time of healing in the next months and years. It has been comforting to see the support that has been here for our community and our families. This is a diverse community.”
In his reaction, Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote on Twitter, “Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence. Our hearts mourn as we learn more about the devastating acts of last night. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
President Joe Biden reacting on Twitter said, “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.”
Meanwhile, the LASD Homicide unit will be collaborating with the Monterey Park Police Department, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the FBI Los Angeles Field Office and several other law enforcement agencies to dig out more information about the mass shooting, the police statement said.
Those with useful information regarding the incident have been encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.
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