Ten people were killed in a mass shooting in Los Angeles on Saturday, when a gunman opened fire on a ballroom dance studio. At least 10 more are injured, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The shooting occurred in Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian-American neighbourhood of the city.
Though the attack took place around 10:20pm on the same day as the lunar new year celebrations in the area that draw thousands from across southern California, the sheriff’s department said it was too soon to tell if it was racially motivated.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the gunman, who was still at large, was believed to be an Asian male.
“We’re going to use every resource available to us, because we need to get this person off the street as soon as possible,” Luna said, noting that they did not believe an assault-style weapon had been used in the attack.
The victims were five men and five women, he added. Further identification has yet to take place.
Investigators are looking into another incident in a nearby suburb, Alhambra, and examining a possible connection. “We have investigators on scene trying to determine if there’s a connection between these two incidents,” said Captain Andrew Meyer of the sheriff’s department in a statement to reporters.
“We will look at every angle as far as whether it was a hate crime or not.”
On Sunday morning, President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter that he was being briefed on the incident.
“[First lady Jill Biden] and I are praying for those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park,” Biden wrote. “I’m monitoring this situation closely as it develops, and urge the community to follow guidance from local officials and law enforcement in the hours ahead.”
The shooting took place at an event involving “dozens” of people, the county sheriff said.
Seung Won Choi, told the Los Angeles Times that three people ran into his seafood restaurant near to the shooting and told him to lock the door. They said “the shooter . . . had multiple rounds of ammunition, so that once his ammunition ran out he reloaded,” the LA Times reported.
It is possible the death toll from the shooting could rise, Meyer said, as some of the injured remained in critical condition. The second day of lunar new year celebrations in Monterey Park has been cancelled.
This is the deadliest of the 33 mass shootings in the US so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and the worst since 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022.