Police found the 72-year-old lifeless in his van on Sunday afternoon after hours of searching, Sheriff Robert Luna said at a press conference. He took his own life with a gun when a special police unit surrounded his car. There are no other suspects.
The crime happened on Saturday evening during a Chinese New Year celebration in Monterey Park, an eastern suburb of the Pacific metropolis of Los Angeles, where many people of Asian descent live. The perpetrator opened fire on revelers: at least ten people, five men and five women, died. Ten others were taken to the hospital with injuries, some of them serious.
According to the police, the perpetrator entered the restaurant at around 10:22 p.m. (local time) and fired a gun. “When officers arrived at the scene, they saw numerous people, visitors to the place, erupting screaming from the place,” said Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. The perpetrator fled. The police cordoned off the area around the club.
The owner of a restaurant near the scene of the crime told the Los Angeles Times that three people ran into his restaurant and asked him to lock the door. They said the shooter carried so much ammunition that he could reload over and over again. Monterey Park has a population of approximately 60,000 and is located approximately eight miles from downtown Los Angeles.
“It could have been a lot worse”
Police confirmed on Sunday that the perpetrator showed up at another bar in the neighboring city of Alhambra about 20 minutes after the killing. Two visitors managed to take his gun from him. “You saved lives. It could have been a lot worse,” Sheriff Luna said.
The search for the fugitive lasted until Sunday afternoon (local time). With the help of armored vehicles, special forces surrounded the man’s van in a parking lot about 40 kilometers from the scene of the crime, aerial footage on US television showed. At first it was not clear whether the man still posed a threat, said Sheriff Luna.
A big festival took place in Montery Park over the weekend to mark the Chinese New Year. It was supposed to last until Sunday, but was canceled after the terrible events on Saturday. Only a few hours before the crime, people had been celebrating together peacefully on the streets.
“It breaks my heart to hear that we have lost ten lives – shortly after such a beautiful event that many of us here attended yesterday,” said District Manager Hilda Solis. The day has an important meaning for the community. US President Joe Biden ordered a four-day mourning flag display.
Motive still unknown
The investigators were initially unable to provide any information on the motive of the alleged perpetrator, himself of Asian origin. The US broadcaster CNN, citing investigators, reported that the 72-year-old may have tried to get medical help in a hospital shortly before his suicide. However, there was no official confirmation of this.
The US has long struggled with gargantuan levels of gun violence. Fatal attacks of this magnitude are sadly normal in the United States. The non-governmental organization Gun Violence Archive has registered 36 gun attacks with four or more victims since the beginning of this year alone.
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