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Monterey Park Shooting Leaves Asian Students in Grief

Content warning: article includes references to event that may be potentially upsetting or traumatic


After a joyous night of red envelopes and celebrations with their families, Asian students woke up to the news of a mass shooting at a Monterey Park dance studio that left 11 elderly people killed on the eve of the Lunar New Year.


“It was a mix of shock, sadness, and frustration, all at once,” said Jayden Lin, whose grandparents live down the street from where the massacre occurred.


“I walked downstairs after waking up and my dad said ‘Did you hear about the shooting in Monterey Park? That’s right by where I work and my coworkers were celebrating down there last night.’ to me,” said Christina Viyar, recalling a distinct fear of more violence since the gunman had not been caught at the time.


Monterey Park, a city only 20 minutes away from Glendora, is known to be an ethnic enclave of Asian Americans and a commonplace in the childhood memories of thousands of students in the San Gabriel Valley. According to census data, 65% of the roughly 60,000 inhabitants of Monterey Park are Asian.


“This is a place my family and I all know very well and we go to whenever we need money from the bank, need food, or need to buy anything,” said Emory Zhang, who moved to Glendora during his freshman year from San Gabriel, “After the shooting, I don’t want to go to that place anymore, I’m scared to go there.”


Out of the confusion and panic comes a deep pain for the loss of 11 Asian elderly people on the night of honoring the seniors of Asian families. The victims (Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hong Jian, 62; Lilian Li, 63; My Nhan, 65; Muoi Ung, 67; Diana Tom, 70; Yu, 64; Valentino Alvero, 68; Ming Ma, 72; Yu Kao, 72; and Chia Yau, 76) were all killed while dancing to the countdown of Lunar New Year.


Star Dance Studio, a place where older Asian immigrants learn the rhythms of rumba and Latin dancing, was reported to be hosting a celebratory event with snacks, prizes, a photo booth, and games for the community. But by the time the people in the studio realized that the firecrackers were actually gunshots, 10 people laid unresponsive on the dancefloor that night.


Authorities found the shooting’s suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, dead in a Torrance parking lot from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. As investigators continue to put together the details from deadly violence, a second fatal shooting the weekend occurred in Half Moon Bay killed four people and wounded another three.


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