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Ten dead in shooting outside Los Angeles; suspect at large

Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide bureau walk away after briefing the media in Monterey Park, California  on Sunday. -- AFP
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide bureau walk away after briefing the media in Monterey Park, California on Sunday. -- AFP

MONTEREY PARK: A man fatally shot 10 people at a ballroom dance venue where people were celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year late on Saturday in a city on the eastern edge of Los Angeles, and he was still at large after fleeing the scene, police said.


Another 10 people were taken to local hospitals to be treated for injuries, and at least one was in critical condition, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said early on Sunday morning, about five hours after the attack in Monterey Park.


When local police first arrived, people were "pouring out of the location screaming," department captain Andrew Meyer told reporters in a news briefing at the scene. There was no immediate information about a motive for the shooting or a description of the suspect or kind of gun used.


The shooting took place after 10 pm PST (06:00 GMT on Sunday) around the location of a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration where many downtown streets are closed for festivities that draw thousands of people from across Southern California. Police said the festivities planned for Sunday were now cancelled.


Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people around 11 km from downtown Los Angeles. About two-thirds of its residents are Asian, according to US Census data, and the city is known for its many Chinese restaurants and groceries. The sheriff's department said it did not know whether the attack was racially motivated.


Footage posted on social media showed injured people on stretchers being taken to ambulances by emergency staff. Around the scene of the shooting police guarded cordoned-off streets, the video showed.


Seung Won Choi, who owns a seafood barbecue restaurant near the site of the attack, told the Los Angeles Times that three people rushed into his restaurant and told him to lock the door because a man was unloading multiple rounds of ammunition at the club across the street.


Mass shootings are recurrent in the United States, and the attack in Monterey Park was the deadliest since May 2022, when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas. The deadliest shooting in California history was in 1984 when a gunman killed 21 people at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, near San Diego.


The US Department of Justice said there were over 7,000 reported hate crimes in the United States in 2021, affecting more than 9,000 people. Two thirds of those were race-related, it said.


Gun violence is a huge problem in the United States, which saw 647 mass shootings last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive website, defined as an incident with four or more people shot or killed, not including the shooter.


More than 44,000 people died from gunshot wounds in 2022, more than half of which were suicides.


The country has more weapons than people: one in three adults owns at least one weapon and nearly one in two adults lives in a home where there is a weapon. - Agencies


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