Communities in the state of California in the USA are again reeling after two mass shootings over three days that have claimed at least 18 lives.
Monday’s shootings occurred in two locations at a mushroom farm and trucking company on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay about 48 kilometres, south of San Francisco. The suspect in those killings was later apprehended.
This incident followed the killing over the weekend of at least 11 people at a ballroom dance hall in Monterey Park near Los Angeles by a suspect who later turned his gun on himself as police closed in.
Investigators in the Saturday night shooting which claimed 11 lives and injured nine others are still searching for a motive for the attack after 72-year-old Huu Can Tran mowed down patrons at a dance hall during Lunar New Year festivities. He later killed himself when police cornered him inside a van after a manhunt that stretched the length and breadth of Los Angeles.
Days later police arrested 67-year-old Zhao Chunli after seven people were killed in two incidents near Half Moon Bay. This was the moment police arrested Chunli who was taken into custody who local officials have described as a disgruntled worker.
“Zhao was taken into custody without incident and a semi-automatic handgun was located in his vehicle. Zhao is believed to have acted alone and there is no further threat to this community. This is a devastating tragedy for this community and the families touched by this unspeakable act of violence,” says San Mateo County Sheriff, Christina Corpus.
This comes as police continue to search for the motive for Saturday’s incident where the deceased suspect earlier fired 42 rounds killing 11 before driving to another nearby dancehall where the gun was bravely wrestled away from him by an employee.
“I think we all want to find out why. We all want answers to questions that we may never have answers to. That’s kind of the enigma of this. I know that my individual officers would like to know why; I know the families want to know why. The why is a big part of this. The problem is we may never know the why and we have to work past that,” says Monterey Park police chief, Scott Wiese.
The Gun Violence Archive which defines a mass shooting as involving at least four people killed or injured has listed some 38 mass shootings in the United States since the beginning of the year. The White House also weighed in.
“As the President said last night, while there is still much we don’t know about this attack, we do know how deeply it has impacted the AAPI community. Monterey Park is home to one of the largest AAPI communities in America, many of whom were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this past weekend. But instead of celebrating, yesterday many families in Monterey Park were grieving or praying that their loved ones will recover from their wounds. Last night, the President lowered the flags at the White House to half-staff to honour those who lost their lives this weekend,” says White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre.
President, Joe Biden continues to press for an Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazine Ban in the country, again calling on Congress to act.
A curious aspect of these incidents is that both suspects were over the age of 65, much older than what has come to be expected in these types of mass killings but the carnage and devastation left in their wake by no means dissimilar, described by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom as a tragedy upon a tragedy.
A gun violence epidemic continues to leave too many unanswered questions in communities left vulnerable by America’s unique and enduring gun violence problem.