MONTEREY PARK (US), Jan 25 (AP): In the wake of the worst massacre in Los Angeles County history, the California governor was meeting gunshot victims in the hospital when he was pulled away and briefed on a mass shooting at the other end of the state.
Word that a gunman had killed seven people at two mushroom farms in a scenic coastal stretch of Northern California came just hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke of his fatigue and frustration with mass shootings.
“I can’t keep doing them,” he told reporters earlier Monday in Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed at a dance studio. “Saying the same thing over and over and over again, it’s insane.”
Yet Newsom was in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday to address the third mass shooting in just over a week in a state with some of the nation’s toughest gun laws and lowest gun death rates.
His voice brimming with anger and emotional at times, Newsom said he consulted notes he used at past mass shootings: the slaying of 12 at a Thousand Oaks country and western bar in 2018; the killing of three and wounding of 17 at the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival; the slaying of nine workers at a San Jose rail yard in 2021.
“I started writing in Monterey Park,’” Newsom said. “And now I gotta write in, Half Moon Bay.’ What the hell is going on?”
A 66-year-old farmworker was booked on murder and attempted murder charges after shooting eight people, killing seven, in a crime authorities said was a case of workplace violence in the rich agricultural area that lies between the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountains.
In Monterey Park, a 72-year-old gunman shot up a dance hall in an Asian American community that had been celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve on Saturday night, wounding nine people in addition to the 11 killed.
The gunman later took his own life.
A week earlier, at least two assailants fatally shot a 16-year-old mother clutching her 10-month-old baby, and killed four others in a brazen attack in a central California farming community that remained unsolved.
“Our hearts are with the people in California,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday at a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders.
“They’ve been a rough, rough couple of days.”
Biden noted that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced an assault weapons ban, and he urged lawmakers to pass it.
Newsom also called for stronger gun safety laws and took particular aim at the large capacity magazines — like the one the dance studio gunman had — and what he called “weapons of damn war.”
“It’s said all the time: Only in America,’” he said. “No. 1 in gun ownership, No. 1 in gun deaths. It’s not even complicated.”
The recent slayings moved California up five slots to 26th place on the number of fatal mass shootings per capita in the U.S. since 2006, according to a USA TODAY/AP/Northeastern University mass killing database.
The database only counts killings of at least four people.
While California has the highest number of fatal mass shootings — 49, including the recent three — it had ranked 31st beforehand when adjusted for being the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists California as having the 7th lowest gun mortality rate in the country per 100,000 residents, according to the most recent statistics available from 2020. It’s 20th lowest in terms of homicide rate, which is not limited to shootings.
With the back-to-back killings, detectives at both ends of the state were trying to answer the question that often goes unanswered in the face of senseless violence: Why?
Tran fired 42 rounds at the ballroom popular with older Asian Americans.
He then drove to another nearby dance hall where an employee wrested a modified 9 mm submachine gun-style weapon away from him, Luna said.
Tran fatally shot himself on Sunday as officers surrounded the van he was inside. A handgun was recovered from the van, which matched descriptions of the vehicle he used to get away from the dance studio.