Eleven Monterey Park residents died in a mass shooting at a dance studio on January 21, 2023, as the city’s Asian community celebrated the eve of the Lunar New Year. California police later found the 72-year old gunman in a white van, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No motive has been established for the killing. According to officials, the men and women who were fatally shot appeared to be of Asian descent.

Just two days later, in a second mass shooting on January 23, 7 people were killed by another gunman at two separate locations in Half Moon Bay, California. The shootings took place at a mushroom farm and a nearby trucking facility. Officials say the victims were mostly farmworkers. A 67-year old suspect was taken into custody. The motive for the shooting is still unknown.

Local Leaders Say Community Is On Edge

Diana Ding of Ding Ding TV spoke to Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders about the attacks and about how to prevent these incidents happening in the future.

Maeley Tom (Founding President, Joint California Legislative Caucus Institute) said: “I do agree that these past years of living under the threat of anti Asian violence has taken its toll on the mental health of the Asian community, especially the elders, though not condoning this as a reason for the two tragic incidences.  But our community is really on edge, angry and frustrated.”

Ken Fong (Founder and Chairman of Kenson Ventures) said the shootings were a reminder of the serious emotional trauma that APIs are facing. The two “side by side API mass killings have brought this long simmering mental instability to the surface.”

NCAPIP Condemns Shootings

The National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians (NCAPIP) condemned the tragic loss of life due at the hands of shooters. They blamed an ever-encroaching climate of violence and the continued and unabated access to firearms at the root of gun violence that is traumatizing every segment of society, including those of Asian immigrant communities.

In a statement, Dr. Winston Wong, chair and acting CEO of NCAPIP said, “While we can, and should, seek to limit the easy access to guns and firearms by unauthorized and violent individuals, we as physicians must direct our attention toward mitigating the trauma and stress of our patients in need, particularly those who have no easy access to bilingual mental health services. NCAPIP is committed to seeking and supporting our community at large as they deal with large scale trauma, especially during a period that is usually one of celebration, good health and family togetherness. We need to redouble our effort to make sure patients are cared for emotionally as well as physically.”

Tragedy upon Tragedy’ – Gavin Newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom told CBS News that “The Second Amendment is becoming a suicide pact.”  In another tweet he renewed calls for stricter gun control measures. “Large capacity magazines do not belong on our streets.”

Dr. Wong reiterated that “Even as we uncover the circumstances and specifics of this traumatic event over the next several months, NCAPIP recognizes that violence prevention is a priority issue in community health, and that communities feel targeted during this period of unrest and racial scapegoating.”

Congresswoman Judy Chu, a Democrat representing California’s 28District, said that the shooting ‘shattered’ the image of Monterey Park, which is 65% Asian, as a peaceful place to raise kids and as a place that embraces diversity.

“My heart is broken for the victims, their families, and the people of my hometown Monterey Park,” she tweeted.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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Meera Kymal is the Managing Editor at India Currents and Founder/Producer at desicollective.media. She produces multi-platform content on the South Asian diaspora through the lens of social justice,...