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California reeling from mass shootings: 'Too much bloodshed'

Salvador Hernandez, Jeong Park, Ruben Vives and Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

As mourners were gathering Monday evening for a candlelight vigil in Monterey Park for 11 people killed by a gunman at a dance studio, word spread of another mass shooting in Half Moon Bay.

Siu Fong, a Monterey Park retiree who volunteers at the Langley Senior Center, knew two of the victims of that shooting. With another spasm of violence less than two days later, she was left wondering: What is happening in California?

“I would say there needs to be a little bit more gun control,” she said. “Of course, a lot of people say they need guns to protect themselves, but the thing is, maybe they need stronger background checks. I don’t want people going to gun shops to get guns.”

California is reeling from three mass shootings carried out in one week.

Six people were found fatally shot inside a home in Goshen, California, on Jan. 16 in a case police believe could be tied to organized crime.

On Saturday night, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran walked into the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park and opened fire, killing 11. He then went to a second dance club in Alhambra but was disarmed. Police think jealousy over a personal dispute might have been the motive in the attack but emphasize that the investigation is continuing. Tran carried a 9 mm MAC-10 when he walked into the Monterey Park dance hall about 10:20 p.m. Saturday and began spraying bullets as frightened patrons ducked for cover. Authorities recovered at least 42 spent shell casings from the scene.


Then Monday afternoon, seven more people were killed in two shootings in Half Moon Bay that authorities say are connected. A 67-year-old man is suspected of opening fire at two rural farms about a mile apart, shooting some of the victims in front of children who lived nearby and had recently been released from school. The shooting suspect, identified as Chunli Zhao, was believed to work at one of the farms. Police have not revealed a motive in those shootings.

“Tragedy upon tragedy,” Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was visiting Monterey Park on Monday, said of the two attacks.

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and there has been talk of even more restrictions in the wake of the latest violence.

Data suggest the rules have made a difference. As the Los Angeles Times reported last year, in 2005, California had almost the same rate of deaths from guns as Florida or Texas, with California reporting 9.5 firearms deaths per 100,000 people that year, Florida reporting 10 and Texas 11, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Since then, California repeatedly has tightened its gun laws, while Florida and Texas have moved in the opposite direction.


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