California mourns its dead after two killings affecting the Asian community

In a dance hall in the suburbs of Los Angeles on Saturday, then on a farm near San Francisco on Monday: two killings in less than 48 hours left at least 18 dead in California, with the Asian origin of most of the victims in common and the two authors.

After expressing his shock and ordering the flags to be lowered to half-mast on Sunday, President Joe Biden called for the “quick” passage of a bill that would restrict access to assault rifles.

“The scourge of gun violence in America demands stronger action,” said Joe Biden.

Visiting Monterey Park on Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom slammed the uncontrollable proliferation of firearms in the United States.

“It’s a shame,” slammed the Democrat. “We should do better than that, we should lead the way for the world, not just respond to these countless crises and say, over and over and over, those damn prayers and condolences.”

“I’m in the hospital meeting victims of a mass shooting when I’m pulled aside to report another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay. Tragedy after tragedy,” he said. he also lamented on Twitter.

– Farms and dancing –

The killing Monday in Half Moon Bay, just over 40 km from San Francisco, was committed on two farms.

The seven victims are Chinese agricultural workers and an eighth person was seriously injured, according to American media.

The suspect, a 67-year-old individual named Chunli Zhao, has been taken into custody, San Mateo County Police Chief Christina Corpus said, adding that a semi-automatic pistol was found in his vehicle. She added that he had worked on one of the two farms.

This tragedy occurred less than 48 hours after a man burst into the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, 600 kilometers further south, on Saturday evening, an establishment frequented by an Asian clientele.

The assailant fired 42 rounds there and killed 11 men and women, all over the age of 50.

After this carnage, which also left 9 injured, the shooter, Huu Can Tran, 72, had tried to continue his murderous evening in another dance hall not far from there, but had been disarmed there before fleeing and commit suicide in his van, surrounded by the police.

For the two killings, the police were still busy Tuesday to determine the motivations that prompted the perpetrators of the attacks.

“We still have no motive,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna admitted Monday at a press conference in the Monterey Park dance hall case.

Investigators are currently exploring the links between the killer and the two dance halls, in particular the relationship he had there, according to the Los Angeles Times, which cites police sources.

– Redouble our vigilance –

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday evening that the president had been briefed on the Half Moon Bay shooting and had “asked federal law enforcement to provide full ‘needed assistance to local authorities’.

Given the Asian origin of most of the victims in the two killings, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it had activated a consular protection system with its consulates in the United States.

It also urged its nationals to pay particular attention to the local situation and to be extra vigilant, in particular by avoiding going to gathering places, according to a publication sent on Tuesday via the Chinese social network WeChat.

A San Mateo County sheriff’s officer at the scene of the shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, on January 23, 2023 (AFP – Susana BATES)

Around 49,000 people died from gunshot wounds in 2021 in the United States, compared to 45,000 in 2020, already a record year. This represents more than 130 deaths per day, more than half of which are suicides.

However, it is the shootings with many victims that mark the spirits the most, while illustrating the ideological gap between conservatives and progressives on the question of how to prevent such tragedies.

Recent American history is indeed punctuated by killings, without any place of daily life seeming safe, from the company to the church, from the supermarket to the discotheque, from the public highway to public transport common.

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