At least 10 people were killed and 10 others hospitalized in a mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio on Saturday night in a city east of Los Angeles after a lunar new year celebration that attracted thousands wishing to celebrate the year of the rabbit.
A manhunt is on for the suspected gunman, who fled the scene and “remains outstanding”, according to the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department. The sheriff department’s homicide bureau is being assisted by the FBI among other local law enforcement agencies.
The shooting took place around 10.20pm on Saturday in Monterey Park, California, a majority Asian city of about 60,000 people located 7 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, where earlier in the day crowds had gathered to celebrate the eve the lunar new year, a major holiday in many southeast Asian communities.
It was too early to say whether the massacre was racially motivated, according to Capitan Andrew Meyer of Sheriff’s Department, but he added: “We will look at every angle as far as whether it was a hate crime or not.”
The death toll could rise, with some of the injured people remain in critical condition, authorities said on Sunday. The second day of the new year festival has been canceled, authorities said.
Monterey Park’s population is around 65% Asian American and 27% Latino, according to census data. The city was the first on mainland US to have a majority of residents with Asian ancestry, as migrants from Taiwan, China, Japan and Vietnam settled in the community.
The dance studio in downtown Monterey Park where the shooting took place is home to an array of Asian-owned businesses, including restaurants and grocery stores.
Meyer said patrons ran from the club screaming and police rushed inside to try to apprehend the perpetrator as fire department officers treated the wounded.
Seung Won Choi, who owns the Clam House seafood barbecue restaurant across the street from where the shooting happened, told the Los Angeles Times three people rushed into his restaurant and told him to lock the door.
The people told Choi there was a shooter with a machine gun who had multiple rounds of ammunition on him so he could reload.
Authorities have not released any details about the suspect or weapons or weapons.