At least nine people were killed and others hurt when a gunman opened fire at a dance studio in Monterey Park on Saturday night, according to law enforcement sources and witnesses.
The shooting occurred on the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue at around 10:22 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Seung Won Choi, who owns a seafood barbecue restaurant on Garvey Avenue across from where the shooting happened, said three people rushed into his restaurant and told him to lock the door.
They said there was a man with a semiautomatic gun in the area. The shooter, they said, had multiple rounds of ammunition on him, so that once his ammunition ran out he reloaded, Choi said.
Wong Wei, who lives nearby, said his friend had gone to the dance club that night with a few of her friends. His friend was in the bathroom when the shooting started.
When she came out, he said, she saw a gunman and three bodies — two women and one person who he said was the boss of the club, Wei said. He said his friend escaped to his home around 11 p.m.
The shooter was carrying a long gun and appeared to fire indiscriminately, his friends told him.
“They don’t know why, so they run,” he said.
The shooting occurred near the site of a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. Tens of thousands had gathered Saturday for the start of a two-day festival, one of the largest Lunar New Year events in the region.
Earlier in the day, crowds were enjoying skewers and shopping for Chinese food and jewelry. Saturday’s New Year festival hours were scheduled from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
John, 27, who declined to give his last name, lives near the shooting site. He got home around 10 p.m. and heard about 4 or 5 gunshots, he said. Then he heard police cruisers “smashing” down the street. He went downstairs at around 11:20 p.m. to see if the shooting occurred at the New Year festival.
“My first concern was I know they’re having a Lunar New Year celebration,” he said. But he said he saw that the festival had already been cleaned up for the day when he arrived. He went to the scene of the shooting and saw one person being put on a stretcher. Another person had a bandage on their arm.
Video on social media showed police and fire units swarming an area on Garvey Avenue and treating victims.
Injured people were taken to multiple hospitals in the area.
It was unclear if a suspect was in custody.
The violence left many in the area stunned.
Edwin Chen, a 47-year-old delivery dispatcher, rushed over from Woodland Hills to Monterey Park around 12:30 a.m. after hearing the news. Chen grew up in the area, he said, and about a dozen of his relatives and friends live there.
He said he was saddened this happened just as the community was celebrating Lunar New Year.
“This is [supposed to be] a happy time,” he said. “I want to find out as much as possible. It’s still shocking.”
“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred,” Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia, the first Asian American to hold citywide office in L.A., said in a tweet.
Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 in the San Gabriel Valley, has a majority Asian American population. Located east of Los Angeles, the suburb is 65% Asian American, 27% Latino, and 6% white, according to census data.
One of the anchor suburbs in the San Gabriel Valley, Monterey Park is a hub of Asian American supermarkets and restaurants.