California Mass ShootingsHalf Moon Bay Killings Add to State’s Grim Toll of Gun Violence

‘Only in America’: California grapples with a mounting toll of gun violence.

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Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — A barrage of gun violence left California searching for answers on Tuesday after the death toll from a series of mass shootings, spanning the state from a farmworker community near San Francisco to a Los Angeles suburb, rose to at least 19 people in less than three days.

The attacks posed yet another challenge for beleaguered Californians, who have only begun to recover from weeks of ferocious rainstorms that flooded homes and smashed piers and levees. Even in a vast state of nearly 40 million people, most everyone was feeling the anguish, no matter where they live.

“We’re exhausted, we’re frightened, we’re angry,” Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, an emergency room doctor who directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center, said.

In Northern California, a 66-year-old man was in custody after seven people were shot dead on Monday near Half Moon Bay, a coastal community known for its small, fog-draped farms and an annual pumpkin festival. Officials at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect, Zhao Chunli, had been employed at one of the farms he attacked and was likely driven by workplace grievances.

In Southern California, investigators continued searching for a motive in the massacre on Saturday night at a ballroom dance hall in Monterey Park, an Asian American enclave where 11 people were killed and nine were wounded. The suspect — Huu Can Tran, 72, a former volunteer dance instructor who the authorities said may have been driven by personal animosities — killed himself on Sunday as the police approached his white van.

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Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times
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Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Those tragedies, however, were only two in a series of mass shootings this month in a state that, overall, has some of the nation’s lowest mortality rates from gun violence, as well as some of its toughest gun laws. Last week, in an attack that the authorities compared to a drug cartel-style execution, six people were shot dead in rural Tulare County in California’s Central Valley, including a 16-year-old girl and her 10-month-old baby. On Monday night, one person was killed and seven people were wounded in a gun battle in Oakland.

On Tuesday, Gavin Newsom, the California governor, visited Half Moon Bay about 24 hours after trying to console injured victims in Monterey Park. Governor Newsom had been at a hospital when he learned of the Half Moon Bay shootings, he said.

“I didn’t want to be here, and I don’t want to be here,” Mr. Newsom said, pulling notes out of his pocket that he said contained the same talking points he used after mass shootings at a San Jose transit yard, a garlic festival in Gilroy and a cowboy-themed bar in Thousand Oaks.

“I started writing ‘Monterey Park.’ Now I have to write in ‘Half Moon Bay.’ What the hell is going on here?” he asked. “It’s said, and it’s said all the time: Only in America.”

In Washington, there was renewed talk of pursuing new gun measures, including legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, to reimpose the assault rifle ban which expired nearly two decades ago.

But the mass shootings in California have once again underscored a political reality on Capitol Hill: Even after a series of massacres that have shaken the country, Congress is unlikely to muster a bipartisan consensus to enact any additional gun control measures.

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Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times
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Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times

President Biden said that he was “working out a number of things that we can and are going to be doing” to address gun violence in conjunction with leaders from California.

“I am asking you all to send that to my desk as quickly as you can,” Mr. Biden said, even though he knew the chances of it passing Congress were slim to none.

On Tuesday night, Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters that California, his home state, already had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. And he said he would not commit to taking up any new gun laws until he had more information about the shootings in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park, which he described as atypical because of the older age of the gunmen.

California’s rate of firearm mortality has been among the nation’s lowest, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, compared with 13.7 per 100,000 nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported. A recent Public Policy Institute of California analysis found that Californians are about 25 percent less likely to die in mass shootings, compared with residents of other states.

Those odds, however, were cold comfort on Tuesday as communities impacted by recent shootings sought answers.

In Half Moon Bay, a city of about 12,000 people that remains isolated enough to maintain a small-town vibe that has disappeared elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, residents struggled to comprehend how the ongoing wave of violence reached their sliver of the Pacific Coast. Pancho Purica, 62, the owner of a convenience store selling tortillas, beer and spices, wondered aloud whether the world had become “cuckoo.”

Fatima Machado, who was working in the parish office of Our Lady of the Pillar, said the town seemed unusually empty, with almost no cars on the road. She thought people were staying home after the shock of the shooting.

“It’s just so surreal that this happened in our little town,” Ms. Machado, 70, said. “You see it on the news. Monterey Park, Oakland — but those are big places. Not Half Moon Bay.”

Steve Wagstaffe, the district attorney in San Mateo County, which includes Half Moon Bay, said that the scope of the investigation posed a challenge even for a jurisdiction in the heart of Silicon Valley. “Cases like this — we’ve never had one in this county,” he said.

The sheriff’s office was still working Tuesday to identify the victims and notify their families, a process that was complicated by the fact that some of the victims were migrants. All the victims were adults, and some lived at the location of one of the shootings along with children, Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

“It was in the afternoon, when kids were out of school,” she said. “For children to witness this is unspeakable.”

San Mateo County authorities said the suspect in the Half Moon Bay shootings, who is expected to be formally charged on Wednesday, had lived in the community and may have worked with some of the victims, and had legally purchased the semiautomatic handgun he used in the shooting.

“There were no specific indicators” in the criminal history of Mr. Zhao, the suspect, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department added, “that would have led us to believe he was capable of something like this.”

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Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times
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Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times

But in court documents filed in a 2013 request for a temporary restraining order, a roommate accused Mr. Zhao of threatening to split his head open with a knife and trying to suffocate him after a workplace dispute in which Mr. Zhou had quit a restaurant job and was unable to get it back.

In his application for the order, which a Santa Clara County judge granted, Jingjiu Wang wrote that Mr. Zhao had crept into his room at their shared San Jose apartment in March 2013 and demanded his paycheck. When Mr. Wang was unable to produce it, he said, “Mr. Zhao said to me, today I am going to kill you,” and then attacked him, trying to smother him with a pillow. Two days later, he said, Mr. Zhao warned him that “bad things could happen” and threatened to bury a kitchen knife in his skull if he did not help him get the restaurant job back.

In Los Angeles County, investigators said that, like the Half Moon Bay suspect, the gunman in Monterey Park had legally purchased the semiautomatic weapon with which the massacre was committed. According to two law enforcement officials briefed on the matter who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, Mr. Tran had bought his MAC-10, which was equipped with an extended capacity magazine, in the 1990s, before California began imposing a series of bans on such rapid-fire weapons.

Officials said they are still trying to determine if the gun had been altered in a way that would have made it illegal to possess at the time of the shooting. Detectives also have seized two other guns in the investigation: the handgun the police say Mr. Tran used to shoot himself as pursuing officers closed in on him Sunday after a regionwide manhunt and a rifle found at his home in a Hemet, Calif., trailer park.

In Southern California, the authorities released the names of the 11 people who were killed in the Saturday night shooting as families mourned the loss of beloved parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office, which has spelled the names of victims differently at various points this week, on Tuesday identified the six women as Diana Man Ling Tom, 70; Muoi Dai Ung, 67; My My Nhan, 65; Lilian Li, 63; Hongying Jian, 62; and Xiujuan Yu, 57. The five men were identified as Chia Ling Yau, 76; Ming Wei Ma, 72; Yu Lun Kao, 72; Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68; and Wen Tau Yu, 64.

New details emerged on Tuesday that were both heartbreaking and horrific.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, Ms. Nhan, 65, and her dance partner that night, an older man, decided to leave the Lunar New Year celebration at Star Ballroom Dance Studio a little early.

Ms. Nhan was driving, and she was beginning to back up when she noticed a figure walking behind her vehicle. She stepped on the brake to allow the person to keep going. Within seconds, the interaction turned tragic.

In the quiet parking lot, the figure — later identified by the authorities as the gunman — walked up to the driver’s side window and shot Ms. Nhan several times. Ms. Nhan, known as Mymy, was the first person fatally shot in the rampage. Her passenger managed to escape uninjured and recount Ms. Nhan’s last moments to her relatives.

Ms. Nhan gravitated toward any activity she considered part of a healthy lifestyle, like ballroom dancing — especially salsa and waltz, her niece, Fonda Quan, said, adding that Ms. Nhan had also been taking care of her mother, who died a little more than a month ago.

After grieving for weeks, she said, “we were really looking forward to, you know, start that Lunar New Year fresh. And unfortunately, this happened.”

Victoria Kim contributed reporting from Monterey Park, Tim Arango, Jill Cowan and Livia Albeck-Ripka from Los Angeles and Anabel Sosa and Irene Benedicto from Half Moon Bay. Reporting was also contributed by Edgar Sandoval, Peter Baker, Annie Karni, Ang Li and Muyi Xiao. Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

A suspect is in custody after 7 people were killed in Half Moon Bay.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — A gunman killed seven people at two locations in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday, shaking a state that was still mourning another mass shooting less than 48 hours before.

The police arrested Zhao Chunli, 66, of Half Moon Bay, in connection with the shootings after he was found in his car in the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation in the town, officials said. They added that there was no continuing threat to the community.

The suspect was taken into custody “without incident” and was “fully cooperating,” Sheriff Christina Corpus said. When an officer first spotted the car at the substation, the suspect was unwilling to get out, she said at a news conference, and there was some difficulty in communicating with him because he spoke only Mandarin Chinese. But officers eventually lured him out of the vehicle and arrested him.

The authorities have not established a motive for the shooting, according to Capt. Eamonn Allen of the sheriff’s department. Local law enforcement was working with the F.B.I. and had not uncovered a criminal history for the suspect or any records of past incidents at either crime scene, he said. The sheriff said the suspect was employed at the first shooting location, a mushroom farm, and that the signs so far pointed to a workplace-related shooting.

The dead included five men and two women, officials said Tuesday afternoon, correcting their earlier reports that six men and one woman were dead. Another man was wounded by gunfire and was hospitalized in critical condition. The United Farm Workers union said in a statement that the seven people who were killed were farm workers.

Some of the victims were Hispanic, and others were of Asian descent, the sheriff said. She added that coroners were still working to identify them and to notify their families on Tuesday, a task complicated by the fact that some were migrants.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California wrote on Twitter that as news of the Half Moon Bay shooting broke, he was at a hospital in Los Angeles, meeting victims of the mass shooting on Saturday night at a ballroom in Monterey Park. In that attack, a gunman fatally shot 11 people and wounded nine others.

“Tragedy upon tragedy,” the governor wrote.

The shootings in Half Moon Bay, a rural seaside town between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, took place around 2:20 p.m. The town’s beaches are a popular surfing destination, and the inland mountains are home to one of the state’s oldest agricultural communities, which employs many migrant workers.

One of the two shooting locations was a plant nursery, the sheriff’s office said.

“There were farmworkers affected tonight,” Supervisor Ray Mueller of San Mateo County said in a news conference. “There were children on the scene at the incidents. This is a truly heartbreaking tragedy in our community.”

He alluded to the storms that have pounded the area over the past month. “The amount of stress that’s been on this community for weeks is really quite high,” he said.

The man arrested in Half Moon Bay is believed to have worked with some of the farmworkers who were killed.

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Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The man arrested in the Half Moon Bay shootings worked at the mushroom farm where he first opened fire, and police believe he may have been targeting his co-workers, Sheriff Christina Corpus of San Mateo County said Tuesday. It was unclear why he shot and killed more people at a second location.

Four people were found dead at the farm that raised mushrooms as produce, and a fifth person with life-threatening injuries was taken from that site to Stanford Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office. Three more people were found dead about a mile away, on the outskirts of the city. The sheriff said the victims were Hispanic and Asian, and the United Farm Workers identified them on Twitter as the “too often invisible, yet always essential, agricultural work force that feeds America and the world.”

Locations of the Shootings

By Julie Walton Shaver

The sheriff’s office was still working Tuesday to identify the victims and notify their families, a process that was complicated by the fact that some of the victims were migrants. All the victims were adults, and some lived at the location of one of the shootings along with children, Sheriff Corpus said.

“It was in the afternoon, when kids were out of school,” she said. “For children to witness this is unspeakable.”

Sheriff Corpus said the man they arrested, identified as Zhao Chunli, drove from one site to the other and that a semiautomatic handgun was found in his vehicle. It was legally purchased and owned, she said.

Police were looking for the gunman’s car when they found it parked in front of the sheriff’s department substation. The suspect was sitting in the front seat, which was leaned all the way back, and initially refused to leave his car. Video shows three police officers pulling the suspect from his vehicle, pushing him to the ground and handcuffing him.

The suspect spoke Mandarin and had difficulty with English, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators brought in a detective who speaks Mandarin to interview him, said Capt. Eamonn Allen of the sheriff’s department.

The suspect in the Half Moon Bay killings was once accused of trying to suffocate a roommate, court documents show.

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Law enforcement officers in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday, a day after seven people were shot and killed.Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The suspect in the killing of seven farmworkers in Half Moon Bay, Calif., was in 2013 accused by a roommate of trying to suffocate him with a pillow and threatening to split his head open using a kitchen knife, court documents show.

Zhao Chunli, 66, who was arrested on Monday in connection with the killings, was the subject of a temporary restraining order filed by the roommate when they were living in San Jose, Calif., in March 2013, the court records show.

The roommate, Yingjiu Wang, had also worked at the same restaurant as Mr. Zhao. Mr. Wang told a judge that Mr. Zhao had quit his job, and two days later, came into his room in the early morning, demanding his salary. Mr. Wang said he told his roommate that he did not have his paycheck, and that he should pick it up at the store. Mr. Zhao, he said, responded: “Today I am going to kill you.”

Mr. Wang said that Mr. Zhao covered his face with a pillow, but that, while struggling to breathe, he had managed to push Mr. Zhao away and leave the room.

Two days after the attack, Mr. Wang said, Mr. Zhao confronted him in the kitchen, telling him that if he did not get his job back, he would use a knife to cut his head. “He said bad things could happen to me,” Mr. Wang said in the court documents.

The judge granted Mr. Wang a temporary restraining order against Mr. Zhao.

Efforts to reach the lawyer who represented Mr. Zhao at the time were not immediately successful. It was unclear if he had a lawyer after being arrested in Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay, ‘our little town,’ faces a shattered sense of security.

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A San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputy kept watch at a perimeter checkpoint on Tuesday near the scene of one of the shootings in Half Moon Bay, Calif.Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — The coastal community of Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday was grappling with a shattered sense of safety and normalcy after the shooting deaths of seven people a day earlier, including four at a mushroom farm and three more nearby at an agricultural nursery.

“Half Moon Bay is as close to small-town America as we get in the Bay Area,” and feels far from hectic San Francisco and Silicon Valley just to the north, said State Assemblyman Marc Berman, whose district includes Half Moon Bay, in a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon. “When you get here, you feel like you’re a million miles away from all those problems. Yesterday, all those problems came crashing down.”

In Half Moon Bay on Tuesday, children played outside at schools where flags flew at half-staff. There was caution tape blocking off shops in a strip mall, where the gunman had been arrested. A vase of flowers had been left outside a community center where witnesses to the shootings had gathered the day before.

Lisa Warner-Carey, the pastor at Community United Methodist Church in Half Moon Bay, said the effects of the shootings were likely to ripple throughout the tightknit town of about 11,000 people, which, she added, has no experience with that kind of gun violence.

“I imagine no parent sent their kid to school today without thinking twice about it,” she said. “To have this kind of violence come so close to home will always kind of change the way you see the world a little bit.”

Fatima Machado, who was working in the parish office of Our Lady of the Pillar in Half Moon Bay, said the town seemed unusually empty, with almost no cars on the road. She thought people were staying home after the shock of the shootings.

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” said Ms. Machado, 70. “Our little town made the map, not in a good way.”

She said that her 87-year-old mother, who lives with her, insisted that they turn on the alarm system for their house on Monday night. They have lived in Half Moon Bay since 1968, and it was the first time they had used it. In Half Moon Bay, almost everyone knows one another, she said.

“It’s just so surreal that this happened in our little town,” she said. “You see it on the news. Monterey Park, Oakland — but those are big places. Not Half Moon Bay.”

One of Half Moon Bay’s most popular events each year is its annual pumpkin festival, which draws as many as 100,000 people in the fall. “Usually in this same parking lot, we celebrate a pumpkin festival, the weighing of the biggest pumpkin,” said Joaquín Jiménez, the vice mayor of Half Moon Bay, during the press briefing. “Today we’re here for a different reason.”

Mr. Jiménez said he expects farmworkers are going to be feeling fearful about returning to work. “This is something that’s going to change how we do things in our community,” he said. “We never thought it would happen in Half Moon Bay — a beautiful community, a coastal community — but it happened.”

Ms. Warner-Carey said the shootings added to the city’s trauma. A series of destructive storms have recently battered Half Moon Bay, leaving many families displaced from their homes.

“We’ve been hit with just one emergency after the other,” she said. “In one way it makes us all pull together, but in another way people are tired.”

The shootings are the latest reminders of Washington’s gridlock on guns.

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Congressional Democrats have joined President Biden’s call for new limits on access to firearms this week, while Republicans have remained virtually silent.Credit...Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The back-to-back mass shootings in California have once again underscored a political reality on Capitol Hill: Even after a pair of massacres that have shaken the country, Congress is unlikely to muster a bipartisan consensus to enact any additional gun control measures in response.

At the Capitol this week, as leading Democrats have joined President Biden’s call to impose new limits on access to firearms, Republicans virtually silent. The divergent reactions reflect the gulf between the two parties on the issue, even after they came together last year to push through the first major gun control legislation in decades.

Negotiators regarded that modest measure, which was aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people, as the furthest they could go in forging a bipartisan compromise on guns. The chances of enacting more aggressive steps, like reinstating a ban on assault weapons, now appear all but nonexistent, with Republicans not only opposed to new limits but also putting forth new proposals to protect the free flow of guns.

“It’s clear that the prevalence of guns in our country has made tragedies like this one too frequent,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on Monday, reacting to the shooting over the weekend in Monterey Park, Calif., where 11 people were killed in what police called the deadliest mass shooting in Los Angeles County’s history. “While the Senate passed bipartisan gun safety legislation last year, and that was a very welcome move, more should be done.”

Just hours after Mr. Schumer spoke on the Senate floor, a gunman killed seven people in two locations in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Mr. Biden told reporters on Tuesday that he was talking to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, as well as Democratic lawmakers from the state, about a federal response. “We’re working out a number of things that we can and are going to be doing,” he said.

Mr. Biden cited legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, to reimpose the ban on assault weapons that expired nearly two decades ago. “I am asking you all to send that to my desk as quickly as you can,” Mr. Biden said.

“No other nation fetishizes violence and guns like we do,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said on Twitter. “No other nation cares so little about who owns the machinery of mass slaughter.”

Republicans, in contrast, said almost nothing in response to the most recent mass shootings. Even the rote messages delivering “thoughts and prayers” for those affected by the shootings, often mocked by Democrats as an inadequate response to gun violence, were not on display.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader and one of the 15 Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the gun safety legislation last year, made no public statement about the mass shootings. And in a sign of how low the expectations are that Congress would act to address the most recent violence, he was not even asked about them at his weekly news conference.

Democrats have conceded that they do not have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass a new assault-style weapons ban. Even if they did, there is little chance that Speaker Kevin McCarthy would bring up such a measure for a vote in the House, where Republicans adamantly oppose an assault weapons ban or any measure seen as infringing on gun rights.

On Tuesday night, Mr. McCarthy told reporters that California, his home state, already had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. And he said he would not commit to taking up any new gun laws until he had more information about both shootings, which he described as atypical because of the older age of the gunmen.

Last year, when Democrats still controlled both chambers in Congress, Mr. McCarthy, who was then the minority leader, whipped his members to vote against the bipartisan legislation that went on to become law in June, which enhanced background checks for prospective gun buyers ages 18 to 21. It also provided incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws that allow guns to be temporarily confiscated from people whom a judge deems too dangerous to possess them. The measure also ensured for the first time that serious dating partners would be included in a federal law that bars domestic abusers from purchasing firearms, a longtime priority that has eluded gun safety advocates for years.

In the new Congress, Republicans are not simply pushing back on additional Democratic gun safety efforts; they are proposing legislation that seeks to protect those who sell, own and make firearms.

Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, in the opening days of the new Congress, introduced the “No SmartPay for Anti-2A Companies Act,” legislation that seeks to punish payment processors that list gun retailers in a separate payment category, which the bill’s proponents say could lead to the creation of a national registry of gun owners.

Representative Claudia Tenney, Republican of New York, introduced a resolution that would declare New York State’s new law placing strict limits on guns outside the home, signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last year, to be unconstitutional.

And Representative Jack Bergman, Republican of Michigan, introduced legislation that would prohibit the federal government from entering into contracts with any entities that discriminate against firearm or ammunition companies or trade associations.

In reaction to the weekend shooting that targeted a thriving Asian American suburb in California, some Republicans noted that strict gun laws in blue states like California do little to stop the violence. The guns used in those shootings, however, are often imported from states with looser gun restrictions.

Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, told CNN he would not support any gun safety measure as a response to the epidemic of mass shootings in the country. Instead, Mr. McCaul said the way to combat gun violence was to collect public information online about potentially dangerous or unstable individuals, in order to stop threats before they happen.

“The way I look at it is, we need the intelligence, we need information sharing, we need to connect the dots,” he said, adding that many of the shooters who ultimately carry out massacres “had warning signs along the way, we just didn’t respond or pick it up.”

In passing the bipartisan gun bill last year, the Senate upended nearly three decades of congressional paralysis on toughening the nation’s gun laws.

Even then, the legislation was not seen as a harbinger of a new era of bipartisan compromise on an intractable issue, but rather a brief moment of bipartisanship that would be difficult to replicate. Most Republicans opposed the bill, and many of those who backed it were not up for re-election.

Those who did were branded as “RINOs,” or Republicans in name only, by former President Donald J. Trump, who is running for re-election, and by some of the more extreme members of the House Republican Conference, which now holds the majority.

Peter Baker and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

An expert explains why California’s gun laws can’t keep out the violence.

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Credit...Alisha Jucevic for The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — California has some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, including various bans on assault-style weapons and other measures meant to keep firearms out of the hands of people who might use them to harm themselves or others.

Last year, in response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, state lawmakers — urged by Gov. Gavin Newsom, an outspoken critic of gun policies in Republican-led states and at the federal level — approved a barrage of new measures.

Yet as the body count from mass shootings continues to pile up in the nation’s most populous state, many Californians are left asking: Why? And how?

Gun policy experts said that a national culture that accepts routine violence, combined with an inability to enforce gun controls in one state that is surrounded by others where rules are more lax, means that California will continue to grapple with public mass violence.

“We are part of a culture that celebrates violence as a means of problem-solving in a country that has made firearms more available than any industrialized country ever,” said Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, an emergency room doctor who directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center. “We have no right to be surprised when these things happen.”

The authorities this week said that they were still investigating where the gunman in the Monterey Park shooting, in which 11 people were killed and several others wounded, obtained weapons, and whether those weapons are banned in California. Investigators were also trying to discern whether California laws would have prevented the suspect from legally possessing guns after a 1994 arrest in which he was accused of the unlawful possession of a firearm.

Dr. Wintemute said that the complexity of California’s gun control laws and when they went into effect make determining the legality of any given person’s possession of weapons difficult to resolve.

Beyond California’s borders, moves by conservative state lawmakers and the Supreme Court to roll back restrictions on gun ownership seem to be part of a broad effort to take gun policy to its “logical extreme,” removing essentially all controls, Dr. Wintemute said.

The responsibility to prevent mass shootings, he said, rests with ordinary Californians, who — unlike Americans in many other states — can report threats by co-workers, family members or partners under the state’s red flag law, which went into effect in 2016 and prevents certain people from obtaining firearms.

“We’re angry, we’re polarized, we’re exhausted,” Dr. Wintemute said. “All of us have to make a choice to step up and be a part of the solution. The only alternative is this will continue.”

All of the victims of the Monterey Park shooting have now been identified.

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A vigil in Monterey Park., Calif., on Monday for victims of the mass shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio.Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times

The authorities in Los Angeles on Tuesday released the identities of all 11 people who were killed in the mass shooting Saturday night at a ballroom in Monterey Park. Many of the victims of the attack, which occurred on the eve of Lunar New Year, were older Chinese immigrants.

The six women and five men who were fatally shot at the venue, the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, ranged in age from 57 to 76. The studio was a popular haven in Monterey Park, a Los Angeles suburb that is home to many Chinese and other Asian immigrants. It was frequented by a tight-knit community of devoted dancers who went there to take lessons, socialize and keep active.

Among those killed were the studio’s manager, Ming Ma. A local resident who took classes at Star Ballroom described him as a “kind of community impresario, recruiting dancers to the studio, hosting karaoke nights and staging performances.” Another of the victims, Hong Jian, who was known as Nancy Liu, emigrated from China more than 25 years ago and frequented Star Ballroom.

Here are the names of the victims released by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, which has spelled them differently at various points this week:

  • Valentino Marcos Alvero, male, 68

  • Hongying Jian, female, 62,

  • Yu Lun Kao, male, 72

  • Lilian Li, female, 63

  • My Nhan, female, 65

  • Ming Wei Ma, male, 72

  • Diana Man Ling Tom, female, 70

  • Muoi Dai Ung, female, 67

  • Chia Ling Yau, male, 76

  • Wen Tau Yu, male, 64

  • Xiujuan Yu, female, 57

My Nhan, the first person killed in Monterey Park, loved fashion and ballroom dancing.

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Shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, My Nhan, 65, and her dance partner that night, an older man, decided to leave the Lunar New Year celebration at Star Ballroom Dance Studio a little early.

Ms. Nhan was the driver, and she was beginning to back up when she noticed a figure walking behind her vehicle. She stepped on the brake to allow the person to keep going. Within seconds, the interaction turned tragic.

In the quiet parking lot, the figure — later identified by the authorities as the suspected gunman — walked up to the driver’s window and shot Ms. Nhan several times. Ms. Nhan, known as Mymy, was the first person fatally shot in the rampage in Monterey Park, Calif., that left 11 people dead.

Her passenger, after managing to escape uninjured, went on to recount the horrifying final moments of Ms. Nhan’s life to her relatives, including a niece, Fonda Quan, 32.

“Her wounds were all on her left side,” Ms. Quan said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “There is a chance that she did not even have a chance to see the person. All the shots hit my aunt.”

Ms. Quan joined many others on Monday in making a sad pilgrimage to the Los Angeles Coroner’s office to identify their loved ones and pick up personal belongings.

“And just seeing those items, I mean, it was definitely difficult,” she said, holding back tears.

The coroner’s office plans to conduct an autopsy before Ms. Nhan’s body is released to her relatives. Then the family can begin the painful process of making funeral arrangements.

Ms. Nhan, the second-youngest of six siblings, emigrated from Vietnam in the 1980s and settled in Rosemead, Calif., about 5 miles from Monterey Park. She did not have children, but loved her nine nieces and nephews as if they were her own, Ms. Quan said.

Ms. Nhan was “really into fashion,” her niece said, and gravitated toward any activity she considered part of a healthy lifestyle, like ballroom dancing — especially salsa and waltz.

Ms. Nhan had also been taking care of her mother, who died a little more than a month ago, Ms. Quan said. After grieving for weeks, she said, “we were really looking forward to, you know, start that Lunar New Year fresh. And unfortunately, this happened.”

The San Gabriel Valley is home to a cluster of small cities like Monterey Park where large immigrant populations, many of them from Asia, have formed close bonds, especially among those in the ballroom dancing community, Ms. Quan said. Though they are near Los Angeles, the cities tend to feel like smaller towns.

On Saturday night, Ms. Quan was at home with her newborn when she received a call from her mother at an unusually late hour. Someone inside the ballroom had called Ms. Quan’s mother moments earlier to say that Ms. Nhan had been shot. The news was so unfathomable, Ms. Quan said, that for a few minutes she and her mother wondered if it was a prank.

Ms. Quan rushed to the scene and saw police officers and emergency crews everywhere. “This is where we realize, you know, this, it might have been a real incident,” she said.

In the interview, she could not help referring to Ms. Nhan in the present tense.

“The one thing that I think she’ll be best remembered by, is just exactly how kindhearted she is, how cheerful she is, and just being kind and friendly to everyone,” Ms. Quan said.

Authorities ask why the gunman attacked a ballroom in Monterey Park he once enjoyed.

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The Lai Lai Ballroom & Dance Studio in Alhambra, Calif., on Monday.Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times

Investigators are looking into whether Huu Can Tran, the 72-year-old suspect in the massacre at a popular dance hall, was driven by personal animosities when he entered a place he knew well and began shooting on Saturday night.

The authorities, who did not specify a motive on Monday, are focusing on the theory that the gunman went to the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., and later to the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in neighboring Alhambra, to target specific people, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the matter.

The violence occurred at the Star Ballroom, and some of those killed or wounded were probably people the gunman knew, while others may have been shot randomly, according to the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the early stages of the investigation.

Mr. Tran had been a frequent presence several years ago at the Star Ballroom, which, like the Lai Lai Ballroom, draws mostly middle-class immigrants from Asia. He often clashed with people at the Star Ballroom, nursing grievances that lasted for years, according to a man who once befriended him and joined him some nights at the venue.

“I was surprised,” the man, Adam Hood, said, describing his reaction when he heard of the massacre and who the suspect was. “But in the same token, I was not surprised.” He added, “If I know him well enough, this would have happened sooner or later.”

Elsewhere on the West Coast, at least three people were fatally shot in a convenience store in Washington State.

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The police in Yakima, Wash., surrounded a residence associated with the suspect in a shooting in which three people were killed at a convenience store early Tuesday.Credit...Emree Weaver/Yakima Herald-Republic, via Associated Press

A man who fatally shot three people in what was apparently a random attack at a convenience store in Yakima, Wash., early Tuesday morning later shot and killed himself after an hourslong police manhunt, the authorities said.

The gunman, Jarid Haddock, 21, took his own life before officers arrived and found him about 3:15 p.m., the authorities said.

Earlier, the Yakima Police Department had identified Mr. Haddock as the suspect in the shooting at a Circle K store on the city’s east side, where they were called around 3:30 a.m. Officers found three people dead inside and outside the store, the police chief, Matthew Murray, said at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. He said that the police did not know the motive for the killings in Yakima, a city of about 96,000 people in central Washington.

As patrons at Circle K ate their food on Tuesday morning, Mr. Haddock — who was armed, unmasked and seemingly making no attempt to conceal his identity — opened the door of the store and immediately began shooting people, Chief Murray said. Two people were killed inside the store, he said.

Mr. Haddock then walked out of the store, saw someone else in a car and fatally shot that person, Chief Murray said.

“From the video and the witness statements, it looks very much random,” he said, adding that there were no apparent conflicts between the victims and Mr. Haddock. “We may learn throughout the investigation that there was something else.”

The names of the victims have not been released by the authorities.

The police initially believed that after killing the three people, Mr. Haddock had fired into a vehicle near the store and stolen it to get away. But investigators later learned that Mr. Haddock had actually locked his keys inside his car and fired at the window in order to get inside, Chief Murray said.

The killings set off an hourslong search for Mr. Haddock; a tip from a woman eventually helped the authorities find him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

At a Target store in Yakima, the woman, whose name was not shared by the police, let Mr. Haddock use her cellphone to make a call, Chief Murray said. She then heard Mr. Haddock call his mother and say, “I killed those people,” according to Chief Murray.

Mr. Haddock returned the phone and walked off on foot. The woman then called 911 and shared what she had heard, Chief Murray said.

“I listened to that call; it’s pretty harrowing,” he said. “And I have to really thank her again because she was very courageous in getting us there.”

When the officers found Mr. Haddock dead, they also discovered a “large amount of ammunition and a weapon” near him, Chief Murray said. He did not say what type of gun was found.

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The Yakima police released an image from a surveillance camera of Jarid Haddock, 21, whom they identified as a suspect in the shooting.Credit...Yakima Police Department

The shooting made Yakima, about 140 miles southeast of Seattle, the latest community in the United States to grapple with gun violence in the first weeks of 2023. It came just hours after a man fatally shot seven people in Northern California on Monday, including four at a mushroom farm near Half Moon Bay, a coastal community south of San Francisco. On Saturday night, 11 people were killed and nine others were wounded in a shooting at a ballroom dancing venue in Monterey Park, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb.

As the search for the gunman in the Yakima shooting unfolded, the East Valley School District ordered students to be kept inside. The police closed roads in the area for several hours.

Representative Dan Newhouse, a Republican whose district includes Yakima, called the attack a “horrific tragedy” on Twitter and urged the community to “remain vigilant.”

Chief Murray said at the news conference that when asked on Tuesday by a reporter how a random killing could be prevented, his response was blunt: “I don’t know how.”

“That makes people uncomfortable,” he said. “And I think that’s why America is uncomfortable right now with a lot of these crazy incidents that are occurring.”

Even his small community, he said, had not been spared.

“Here we are in little Yakima, right on the heels of California, dealing with much the same thing,” he said. “But I don’t have the answers.”

The list of U.S. mass shootings continues to grow.

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Credit...Carlos Bernate for The New York Times

The mass shooting that left at least seven people dead in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday was the second mass shooting in the state in three days.

A suspect is in custody and is cooperating with investigators, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

There is no consensus on what constitutes a mass shooting, complicating the efforts of government, nonprofits and news organizations to document the scope of the problem. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group, defines a mass shooting as involving at least four people killed or injured.

By that measure, there have been at least 38 mass shootings so far in 2023, according to the group. It counted 648 mass shootings last year, 21 of which involved five or more fatalities.

Here is a partial list of recent mass shootings in the United States:

Jan. 21: Monterey Park, Calif.

At least 11 people were killed in Monterey Park, a small community east of Los Angeles, when a gunman opened fire at a ballroom frequented by Chinese American dancers. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, last May, when 19 children and two teachers were killed.

Jan. 16: Goshen, Calif.

Gunmen killed six people, including a 16-year-old and her 10-month-old child, in a shooting that the police said was probably gang-related.

Nov. 22: Chesapeake, Va.

A Walmart employee opened fire in a break room as the store was preparing to close for the night, killing six people, the authorities said. The gunman was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the police.

Nov. 20: Colorado Springs

Five people were killed and 17 wounded by gunfire in a shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub. The gunman was hurt and taken to a hospital.

Nov. 13: Charlottesville, Va.

Three University of Virginia students, all members of the football team, were killed and two were wounded when a gunman, a former player, opened fire in a garage after a field trip to see a play in Washington.

Oct. 13: Raleigh, N.C.

A gunman, described by the authorities only as a “white male juvenile,” killed five people, including an off-duty police officer, and wounded two others. The attacks drew a large response from law enforcement agencies to the residential area near the Neuse River Greenway, a popular bike trail for Raleigh residents.

Sept. 7: Memphis, Tenn.

Memphis was effectively closed down during an hourslong manhunt for a 19-year-old gunman who killed four people while streaming some of the violence on Facebook Live. The violence involved several shootings and carjackings over the course of the day.

July 4: Highland Park, Ill.

Seven people were killed and dozens more wounded when a gunman opened fire from the roof of a building in Highland Park, a suburb north of Chicago, during a Fourth of July parade. A 21-year-old was taken into custody several hours later.

A Lunar New Year celebration turns tragic for couple that loved dancing.

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Credit...-

Jeff and Nancy Liu arrived at the dance studio in Monterey Park on Saturday night to celebrate the Lunar New Year. But what should have been a night of celebration turned into a night of horrors, their daughter, Juno Blees, would later recount, when Mr. Liu saw a man storm in with a gun, and open fire.

During the chaos, Mr. Liu saw his wife collapse, Ms. Blees said. The couple, who had emigrated from China more than 25 years ago, rarely left each other’s side, Ms. Blees said on Sunday. She could not locate her mother after the shooting.

On Monday, Ms. Blees and her father received the news they had feared: Ms. Liu, who was also called HongYing Jian, had died in the attack.

All the family can do now is remember happier times.

“My mom had a bigger-than-life personality. She was warm and friendly to everyone and always tried to help others,” Ms. Blees said. “She loved to cook, travel, paint and dance. Our family misses her very much and we hope she is dancing in heaven now.”

Two bullets had grazed Mr. Liu, his daughter said, causing the minor injuries to his shoulder and back that had sent him to the hospital. “He bled a lot, but the doctors said it was non-life threatening,” Ms. Blees said.

Mr. Liu, 62, was discharged on Sunday and has returned home to recover, Ms. Blees said.

Mr. Liu told his daughter that he and his wife had long visited the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where the clientele is mostly middle-aged or older residents from the area, many of them migrants from China, like her parents. “They know everyone,” Ms. Blees said.

Mr. Liu was standing toward the entrance, watching people dance, when the gunman began shooting. He told his daughter he had seen the gunman open fire at a dance hall operator who was selling tickets at a booth. Ms. Blees said her father “got on the floor right away.”

“He felt heat on his shoulder,” she said. “That’s when he knew that he probably got hurt.”

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Credit...via Chester Chong from the LA Chamber of Commerce

Panic and screaming followed. “Then he said he saw the gunman take off after opening fire,” she said. During the commotion, Mr. Liu saw his wife fall to the floor, then lost sight of her as he was taken into an ambulance.

“He saw her collapse, and they got separated,” she said. “They got separated during the panic that ensued.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Wen Tau Yu was studying to become a pharmacist before the Monterey Park shooting.

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Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Monday.Credit...Alisha Jucevic for The New York Times

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — Two of the men who died at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, where 11 people were fatally shot on Saturday, were aspiring to new goals in their 60s and 70s.

Wen Tau Yu, 64

Wen Tau Yu had recently begun going to school to become a pharmacist, his son, Szu Fa Yu, said in an interview.

“He was 64 years old and retired, but he was exploring his second career,” Mr. Yu said on Tuesday. “I really admire him for that.”

Mr. Yu remembered his father as someone who always strove to be his better self. “His books and notes are still lying around on the desk,” less than a month into the pharmacy program, he said. “It’s heartbreaking to see.”

He immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, where he was a manager at an agricultural company, according to Mr. Yu. “He had always supported our family,” he said, “We were very close. I learned a lot from him.”

The Yu family had a Lunar New Year gathering before his father went out with his friends to celebrate the occasion and never returned.

“We found it bizarre that he never came back,” Mr. Yu said. After hearing from his father’s friends that he never made it to lunch the next day, his family reported to the police that he was missing.

Mr. Yu said that if his father had been a dancer, he had not been aware. His family was unsure whether he had been killed inside the dance studio or while passing by.

On Monday, the Yus found themselves trying to cope with the news of the patriarch’s death. “I did not know what to do. I was in shock,” Mr. Yu said. “When I first found out, I just could not believe it. Now, the sadness is growing.”

Mr. Yu still finds himself waking up in the middle of the night. “I miss his nagging,” he said.

Mr. Yu added that he had not broken the news to his father’s mother, who is in her 90s and in poor health. “We are afraid that she won’t be able to handle it.”

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Mourners near the site where 11 people were shot and killed over the weekend in Monterey Park, Calif., on Monday.Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times

Yu Lun Kao, 72

People close to Yu Lun Kao, who also went by Andy, knew he practiced long hours to perfect his dance moves, even outside the classes he attended, as a longtime member of the dance community in Monterey Park.

He was an optimistic person who worked in the construction business after he and his brother emigrated from Taiwan to California 20 years ago, his older brother, Alan Kao, said in an interview.

Alex Satrin, an instructor who teaches at Star and, said Andy Kao had been a student in his group classes and often practiced alone, as well.

“All day long, that’s how much he loved dancing,” Mr. Satrin said.

On Saturday, when Mr. Kao saw the news reports of the shooting, he frantically tried to call his brother. But his brother’s phone rang and rang without an answer.

“Why is it him?” Mr. Kao said on Tuesday. “Why does it have to be my brother?”

Mr. Kao said he had never imagined his family would be a victim of gun violence and that he hoped the tragedy would lead to gun control measures.

“This Lunar New Year has been so surprising and devastating for us,” he said. “I think time will heal us.”