Democratic lawmakers blamed ethnic bigotry as the motivation behind Saturday night’s mass shooting at a Los Angeles dance club before authorities released information about the suspect.
Law enforcement, however, Sunday, named a 72-year-old Asian man as the gunman in the Saturday night shooting that left 10 people dead on the eve of the Lunar New Year, a major celebration in Asian-American communities.
Gunman Huu Can Tran was found dead in a van that had been surrounded by police Sunday, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said at a Sunday night press conference that “we still are not clear on the motive. The investigation continues.”
A separate incident, law enforcement said, occurred the same night 20 minutes after the first attack at another dance hall in the nearby town of Alhambra.
Sheriff Luna told reporters that the suspect was the same individual at the second location.
During the Alhambra incident, Sheriff Luna told reporters that a “male Asian” suspect entered a dance hall with a gun, which people at the scene wrested away from him before he took off in a white cargo van. There were no injuries reported at the second incident.
Authorities’ description of the shooting suspect in Monterey Park appeared to tamp down accusations that the shooting was a hate crime against the Asian-American / Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
But as news of the Saturday night shooting spread, Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill tweeted out suspicions that the attack was likely a hate crime.
“I’m heartbroken by the news of the shooting in Monterey Park amid Lunar New Year celebrations I’m praying for the victims, their families, the 1st responders,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “We must stand up to bigotry and hate wherever they rear their ugly heads, and we must keep working to stop gun violence.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, also a New York Democrat, said he was “horrified” and “deeply saddened” by the mass shooting.
“We must crush the rise of hatred and intolerance whenever and wherever it is found,” Mr. Jeffries said.
Other Democrats specifically blamed anti-Asian bigotry, before authorities in Los Angeles had said anything official.
“Ten dead in Monterey Park. I am sickened. A horrific example of needless gun violence. With bigotry toward AAPI individuals as a possible motive,” wrote Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, using an abbreviation for “Asian-American and Pacific Islanders.”
Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York tweeted in Spanish that “no community should be terrorized by racially motivated violence and hate. I am with our AAPI brothers and sisters. This can’t go on.”