Witnesses to mass shootings in California say victims fled to neighboring stores when the suspect fired indiscriminately

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Witnesses to the mass shooting during a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, late Saturday told how victims fled the scene to neighboring restaurants for refuge as the suspect shot indiscriminately at people.

“This is [supposed to be] a happy time,” Edwin Chen, who grew up in Monterey Park and rushed to the crime scene when he heard of the shooting, told the Los Angeles Times. “I want to know as much as I can. It’s still shocking.”

Captain Drew Meyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau confirmed Sunday that 10 people were killed and at least 10 other people were injured and taken to local hospitals. According to authorities, the shooting occurred on West Garvey Avenue at approximately 10:22 p.m.

The suspect, who has only been described as a man, fled after the shooting and is still a fugitive. A motive is not yet known Sunday morning.

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Monterey Park is about 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles and has about a 65% Asian American population, the LA Times reported. It’s unclear if the victims were targeted and it was too early to tell if it was a hate crime, Meyer said.

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“We’ll look at every angle,” Meyer said.

Two police officers stand guard at a scene where a shooting took place in Monterey Park, California, Sunday, January 22, 2023. Dozens of police officers responded to reports of a shooting that occurred after a large Lunar New Year celebration ended in a community east of Los Angeles. Angeles late on Saturday.

Two police officers stand guard at a scene where a shooting took place in Monterey Park, California, Sunday, January 22, 2023. Dozens of police officers responded to reports of a shooting that occurred after a large Lunar New Year celebration ended in a community east of Los Angeles. Angeles late on Saturday.
(TBEN Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Witness Seung Won Choi, owner of a seafood restaurant near the shooting, told the Los Angeles Times that three people barged into his restaurant during the shooting and told him to lock the door.

The people allegedly told Choi that the suspect was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and had multiple ammunition to reload the rifle. Police have not confirmed what type of weapon the suspect used during the massacre.

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Another man told the outlet that his friend was in the bathroom of the ballroom club when gunfire rang out before 10:30 p.m. Wong Wei said his friend told him she left the bathroom and saw the bodies of two women and a man, described as the boss of the club. According to Wei, she managed to escape from the club around 11 p.m.

Police are investigating a scene where a shooting occurred in Monterey Park, California, Sunday, January 22, 2023. Dozens of police officers responded to reports of a shooting that occurred after a large Lunar New Year celebration ended in a community east of Los Angeles late Saturday.

Police are investigating a scene where a shooting occurred in Monterey Park, California, Sunday, January 22, 2023. Dozens of police officers responded to reports of a shooting that occurred after a large Lunar New Year celebration ended in a community east of Los Angeles late Saturday.
(TBEN Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Wei said he was told the gunman fired indiscriminately at the crowd with a long rifle, according to the LA Times.

“They don’t know why, so they run away,” he said.

Another local man, identified only as John, said he heard four or five gunshots after 10 p.m. and then heard police vehicles “breaking in” down the street. He left his apartment around 11:20 p.m. to see if the shooting happened near the Lunar New Year festival.

“My first concern was knowing they’re celebrating a Lunar New Year,” he told the Times. He watched as the festival was cleared for the day and witnessed a person being loaded onto a stretcher at the scene of the shooting. He also saw a person with a bandage on his arm, the outlet said.

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Officials said the Lunar Festival scheduled to take place later Sunday in Monterey Park was canceled “out of an abundance of caution.”

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or call crime stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Lawrence Richard and Stephen Sorace of TBEN News Digital contributed to this report.

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