A “wonderful suburban community” is how California Rep. Judy Chu describes Monterey Park, a city she represents east of Los Angeles, where a gunman opened fire Saturday night at a dance studio, killing 11 and wounding nine more.
It was at a Lunar New Year celebration when the assailant, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, opened fire at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a venue witnesses said he frequented as a patron.
“I want to know how he got those guns. Was it through legal or illegal means? I want to know if he evaded our gun laws and or if our gun laws need to be changed. I want to know if he had a mental illness , Chu told Yahoo News in an interview Monday.
Chu, a Democrat, shares a long history with Monterey Park, a city of about 60,000 people that is about 65% Asian. She was elected to the City Council in 1988 before serving three consecutive terms as mayor. In 2009, Chu was elected to represent California’s 28th Congressional District.
On Monday, less than 48 hours after the Monterey Park shooting, another gunman opened fire on two agricultural businesses in Half Moon Bay, a coastal community south of San Francisco, leaving seven people dead.
Meanwhile, hundreds gathered Monday night for a vigil at Monterey Park City Hall as investigators worked to find a motive. Mourners brought flowers and candles, sang “Amazing Grace” and listened to city leaders hoping to lift them up.
“We need to bring the community together to make sure these victims get the resources they need,” she said. “Their lives have been totally disrupted and some of those who are in the hospitals are in very serious conditions. We need to ensure that they have the necessary funds to pay for their medical treatment and for the loss of income in this time. And that they have the resources to get back into their lives.”
Saturday’s shooting was the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County history — and the deadliest in the United States since Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school last May.
“So ever since Sandy Hook, I’ve been involved in the congressional gun safety caucus, and we’ve taken on different pieces of legislation over the years,” Chu added.
“But I never imagined that the mass shootings would come with such frequency and under such increasingly horrific circumstances, as with Uvalde, Buffalo, Club Q and now, my city,” she told Yahoo News. Later that day, the country would hear of another mass shooting in California, this time in Half Moon Bay further north.
Earlier Monday, Monterey Park residents and those in nearby communities traveled to the crime scene to bring flowers and show solidarity.
“This kind of thing affects not only the family, the close relatives, but it affects the whole community, everybody,” said Monterey Park resident Yolanda Gallegos.
“I’m just here to pay my respects. You know, it’s older and it’s just a tragedy,” said Joyce Chow, who grew up visiting her grandmother in the area.
Authorities of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the van he used to get away. Police said he left the scene of the first shooting and went to another dance hall in Alhambra, just north of Monterey Park, where a and wrestled the gun away.
“He’s my hero. He’s a very unassuming and humble young man, and he could never have imagined being, well, a ‘James Bond,'” Chu said of 26-year-old Brandon Tsay, the Good Samaritan.v