‘Together we will get through this’: Mourners gather at vigil for 11 dead in Monterey Park shooting

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As detectives scoured Southern California for anything that could explain the deadliest mass shooting in the US in months, more than 100 mourners gathered Monday night for a vigil in Monterey Park that provided a sober contrast to the season’s usual Lunar New Year celebrations. .

They gathered in the small public park in front of the civic center and stood in silence, absorbed in the grief that had brought them together. Strangers now bound together in grief sought comfort and solidarity in each other’s company and in the tacit belief that the aftermath of a tragedy should not be experienced alone.

Chuching Wang, Chairman of Taiwan’s Benevolent Assn. of California and co-organizer of the vigil, said the idea for the gathering came after talking to friends who described their frustration that a time of joy and family during the Lunar New Year was overshadowed by the shooting. He thought it better to come together as a community.

“It’s kind of part of the processing process,” he said.

Those in attendance came to pay their respects to the 11 killed and nine injured in Saturday night’s shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park and to join in the grief in the aftermath of the attack.

“There’s something about being with others who feel just as sad as you do,” said Enrique Hernandez, who arrived on a bicycle. “You don’t feel so alone.”

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He gripped the handlebars of his bicycle. “That guy must have been so full of hate to walk into a company and just shoot people.”

Hernandez stared up at the US and California flags at half-mast. Between them was a heart-shaped wreath of white roses. There were red balloons, bouquets of flowers, candles – and 11 blue hearts, carved out of wood, lettered with a verse from the Gospel of Matthew.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Nearby, a woman spoke to a reporter. “This came out of the blue,” she said. A man carried a handwritten sign that read, “The problem is guns.”

The violence at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, committed by 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was one of the worst mass shootings in Los Angeles County and the deadliest in the US since a gunman stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. , nearly eight months ago, which killed 19 children and two teachers.

Bundled up against the cold as temperatures dipped into the 50s, Monterey Park mourners began to arrive at dusk. Their presence was reminiscent of other commemorations held in the aftermath of other tragedies, each reflecting the uniqueness and grief of their community.

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Their numbers grew. They brought pets and children, were young and old, and represented a mix of backgrounds who wanted to pay their respects to this predominantly Asian-American community in the San Gabriel Valley.

Like Hernandez, they tried to understand the futility of the murder.

“You never expected people to die before the New Year,” said Johnson Chan, 66, of Monterey Park, who came to the wake with his wife Catherine.

Monterey Park’s Julie Zhu described the shooting as a tragedy for not only the Chinese diaspora, but also the wider Asian community.

We are all “focused on this tragedy,” said Zhu, who shared that she is of Japanese descent. She looked around the crowd and took comfort in the turnout.

“I just want to show my support to the community and let them know they are not alone. … We will protect each other, and we will also just pray for each other, and we hope that this community will put an end to this kind of tragedy and we can live in peace.”

Alan Kobayashi, 65, of Eagle Rock acknowledged that investigators may never fully understand the motive of the gunman, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Torrance strip mall parking lot. The dance studio recordings, he said, “make you shiver, but I’m so happy to see so many people.”

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A little after 7 p.m., Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) to the crowd. She reminded the community to support the families of the victims and those in hospital with serious injuries.

“Some have been intubated,” she said. “Some are worried about their medical bills, some are worried about getting their jobs back, and we in the community really need to help them.”

She reaffirmed her confidence in the city and ended her remarks with a sign of strength.

“I know this community is resilient,” she said. “I know we can get through this if we work together, and we are stronger when we work together. I know we will get through this crisis together.”

Later in the evening, news began to spread through the crowd about another massacre in Northern California, where at least seven people were killed in two related shootings in rural Half Moon Bay.

Hernandez was still on his bike and could only look down and shake his head.

“Too much bloodshed,” he said.