MONTEREY PARK — The city of Monterey Park held a candlelight vigil the evening Jan. 21 on the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting that left 11 people dead, as calls persist for stricter gun laws.
The vigil was held at Monterey Park City Hall, commemorating the tragic events of Jan. 21, 2023, when gunman Huu Can Tran entered Star Ballroom Dance Studio and opened fire, killing 11 and seriously wounding nine others.
The shooter then went to Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra and attempted to enter before he was stopped by Brandon Tsay, a young man lauded as a life-saving hero.
The gunman, 72, killed himself the following day after he was pulled over by police outside a Torrance strip mall.
The mass shooting was the deadliest in L.A. County history — and occurred on the eve of the Lunar New Year in a community that is majority Asian American and is considered the first suburban Chinatown in the nation.
“There’s still so much healing to do, but it’s my hope to continue the process of healing together” Kristenne Reidy, whose father was killed in the shooting, said at the Jan. 21 ceremony.
Survivor Cindy Lao recalled that night for NBC4, saying “When I came out of the room and to the dance hall, I saw a lot of blood on the floor. I saw people on the floor. I even saw someone shot in the head. Thinking about that night, all the lives that were lost, those who were injured, I still feel pain and sorrow in my heart.”
Monterey Park Mayor Jose Sanchez said, “Gun violence needs to end. It needs to end here.”
Tsay, meanwhile, said he is not the only hero.
“Together we are not just victims, we are a community of heroes that thrives from a brighter and safer future without gun violence,” he said.
Following the shooting, President Joe Biden visited Monterey Park, consoled each of the victims’ families and announced executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence. He also took time during his State of the Union speech on Feb. 7, 2023, to call for increased gun control.
Rep. Judy Chu, a former Monterey Park City Councilwoman and three-time mayor, who also chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, issued a statement Jan. 19 reflecting on the tragic events of a year ago.
“Sunday marks one year since a truly unconscionable mass shooting in my hometown of 38 years, Monterey Park, that devastated and terrified the Asian American community nationwide,” Chu said. “I mourn and honor the eleven people, all of whom were of Asian descent, who were murdered on one of the most important and celebratory days of the year for our community.”
‘My heart is with the victims’ families and survivors today, many of whom are still recovering from the senseless violence and trauma of that day and grappling with the terrible anguish of losing loved ones,” Chu added. “As we grieved and healed this past year, I was encouraged by the remarkable stories of hope and unity; so many of my neighbors, and strangers from across the country, courageously offered support, raised money for the families affected, and helped us process the trauma.”
Chu noted that local advocates and organizations mobilized and continue to support the victims with translation services, government resources, fundraising and mental health care, as well as long-term assistance at the MPK Hope Resiliency Center at Sierra Vista Park Community Center.
She also reiterated her support to ban high-capacity magazines, implement universal background checks and restore the assault weapons ban.
In the past, Chu has touted two pieces of proposed gun-violence prevention legislation — the Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act, and the FLAG, or Fair Legal Access Grants, Act.
She has said the first would ensure multilingual outreach efforts about red flag laws and gun violence prevention, while the second would provide funding to ensure proper legal representation for people seeking to file red flag petitions to keep guns away from people with mental health or other issues precluding them from owning weapons.
“I have introduced the Language Access to Gun Violence Prevention Strategies Act, to build on the president’s action to further strengthen ‘red flag’ laws and other gun violence prevention strategies by ensuring resources are disseminated in a culturally appropriate manner and made available in- language for immigrant and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities,” Chu’s Jan. 19 statement said.
“These efforts are all incredibly crucial to our collective recovery and healing process, but I am most of all so heartened by our own community’s support for each other and our unyielding determination that Monterey Park’s vibrancy can be restored.
“I know that our community is a resilient one, and this past year has proven that in countless ways. In the aftermath of tragedy, our community continues to be a beacon of strength.”