MONTEREY PARK, Calif., Jan 24 – Just two days after a gunman killed 11 people at a Los Angeles-area dance studio, seven more were shot dead in an agricultural area near San Francisco as California suffered one of its own. the bloodiest spate of mass gun violence in decades.
Authorities said they had not determined a motive for any of the rampages, which seemed especially puzzling in part because the suspects in each were men of retirement age, much older than is typical for the perpetrators of the deadly mass shootings that have become a numbing routine in the United States. of states.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was visiting injured survivors of Saturday night’s massacre in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park when he was informed of Monday’s killings in Northern California.
“Tragedy after tragedy,” Newsom wrote on Twitter.
Otherwise, the back-to-back shootings seemed to have little in common.
The latest spasm of gunfire hit the coastal town of Half Moon Bay, about 50 miles south of San Francisco, where a gunman opened fire on groups of farm workers at two locations about a mile apart, leaving a total of seven dead and one injured. wounded, then fled.
The accused shooter, identified as Chunli Zhao, 67, was taken into custody shortly after he was found sitting in his vehicle parked outside the sheriff’s station where authorities believe he had come to turn himself in.
A semi-automatic handgun was found in his car, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said at an evening news conference.
Corpus said the suspect, who was “fully cooperative” with investigators after his arrest, worked at one of two crime scenes. She described the places as agricultural “nurseries” where some of the workers also lived. Local media reported that there was a mushroom farm at one location.
In a separate incident in the Bay Area on Monday night that drew far less attention, one person was killed and seven were injured in a “shooting between multiple individuals” in Oakland, police said, in circumstances that suggested gang violence. Police provided few details, but said all surviving victims had taken themselves to local hospitals.
News of the massacre in Half Moon Bay came as police spent a second full day investigating a shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, east of downtown Los Angeles, where a gunman shot and killed 11 people. Nine others were injured.
Authorities said the suspect, Huu Can Tran, 72, drove next door to a nearby town and burst into a second ballroom, but was confronted by a club operator who shoved the gun away during a brief scuffle.
Tran, himself a longtime patron of the Star Ballroom that catered mainly to older dance enthusiasts, fled again and disappeared overnight.
He shot himself to death in his parked getaway vehicle, a pickup truck, on Sunday morning, about 12 hours into his rampage, as police surrounded him in the city of Torrance, south of Los Angeles, authorities said.
Saturday’s violence unfolded amid Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park, a hub of Southern California’s Asian-American community, prompting initial concerns that the attack may have been racially motivated. The second day of the event was cancelled.
According to Hilda Solis, a member of the County Board of Supervisors, it was the deadliest mass shooting ever in Los Angeles County.
By comparison, the massacre of 21 people at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Diego in 1984 represents the largest loss of life in a single shooting on record in California.
Fourteen people were killed in San Bernardino, east of L.A. County, in 2015 by a married couple who authorities described as extremists inspired by foreign terrorist groups. A few hours later, they were killed in a shootout with the police.
The two most recent shootings were also notable for the ages of the suspects, one in his late 60s and the other in his early 70s.
A database of 185 mass shootings between 1966 and 2022 by the nonprofit Violence Project includes only one by someone age 70 or older — a former coal miner who killed five people in Kentucky in 1981.
As evidence of the firepower unleashed at the Monterey Park ballroom, investigators collected 42 shell casings and a large-capacity ammunition magazine from the scene, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna told reporters Monday.
He said a search of the suspect’s mobile home in a gated senior community in the town of Hemet, 80 miles east of Los Angeles, turned up a rifle, electronic devices and items “that lead us to believe the suspect was a homemaker.” weapon suppressors. Police also recovered hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the residence and a handgun from the suspect’s vehicle.
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said investigators are looking into unconfirmed reports that the violence may have been fueled by jealousy or relationship problems.
Adam Hood, who rented a house from Tran in the Los Angeles area, told Reuters that his landlord enjoyed ballroom dancing and was a regular at the Star Ballroom, although he complained that others there talked behind his back.
“He was distrustful of people in the studio, angry and distrustful. I think he just had enough,” Hood said.