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Communities Gather To Remember Victims In Monterey Park Shooting

Large photos rest on easels rimming in white flowers with candles at the base. One women is bent over reading the messages.
A row of posters, draped in flowers, have photos of the victims of the Monterey Park shooting.
(Chris Farias
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Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil outside of the Star Dance Studio to remember the victims of Saturday night’s shooting.

Eleven people were killed in that incident — mostly men and women in their 60s and 70s who were there to enjoy a night out at the ballroom.

Garvey Avenue Connects 'Generations'

One victim was Ming Wei Ma, co-owner of Star Dance and a beloved dance instructor there.

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  • A mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park late in the evening on Saturday, Jan. 21, left 10 people dead at the scene and 10 others wounded. An 11th victim died Monday.

  • What we know so far:

      • About those killed: The youngest person killed was 57 and four others were in their 70s. 
      • Still searching for a reason. “We still don't have a motive, but we want to know the motive behind this tragic event, and the FBI continues to collaborate with us in that portion of the investigation,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Monday.
      • Motive remains unknown: The gunman has been identified as a 72-year-old man who authorities said died by suicide as police approached his cargo van in Torrance late Sunday morning
    • As we report on that shooting, we are also resurfacing resources and previous reporting that can help people understand the context and get help, if needed.

    “What was amazing about teacher Ma is that when you called him he was there,” said Monterey Park community member Cindy Wu. “He was always willing to be available and really just spread the culture and be there to bridge the gap between various cultures.”

    The ballroom was a popular destination on the weekends for people across the city and the wider San Gabriel Valley.

    “This street and plazas just like this are a lifeline to many of us here,” said Carrie Zhang, the founder of The Asian Mental Health Project, who spoke at last night's vigil. “Places like Garvey Avenue, they connect generations of people when words within families are mistranslated and miscommunicated.”

    Zhang addressed the mental health impact of this shooting tragedy, especially on immigrant communities that have found a sense of home in Monterey Park.

    “We show our love for each other by sharing food at our favorite restaurants. We celebrate sacred holidays together and through dancing together in places just like this. But this lifeline has been cut.”

    Do Not Mourn In Isolation

    She stressed that it's important not to mourn in isolation and to reach out to others: “We have to hold space for our own feelings and for each other's feelings.”

    After the shooting, a special emphasis has been placed on the mental health of elders in Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities who may be reluctant to ask for help, or unsure of how to do so.

    Zhang emphasized on Wednesday night that there are resources available at the Asian Mental Health Project and elsewhere. Anyone in an immediate crisis can dial 988 or access local mental health resources through county websites.

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    A crowd gather holding candles at night in front of businesses at a vigil in Monterey Park
    A crowd gathers for a candlelight vigil in front of the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting.
    (Chris Farias
    LAist )

    Not far from Monterey Park, at East Los Angeles College, another vigil was held in memory of the victims.

    Students, faculty, and staff gathered in the quad just three miles from Star Dance.

    A group gathers around a tree in a campus quad holding candles. The trees are uplit as it is evening and a brick column with a large E on it
    A vigil was held at East Los Angeles College to remember victims of the mass shooting in Monterey Park

    Samantha Rodriguez is a 23-year-old student at ELAC who reflected on what it's like to grow up in a time where mass shootings are commonplace.

    “It makes you have a wake-up call," she said. "It makes you be more aware of your surroundings, more aware of your world, more aware of your environment on a daily basis, and makes you stay more alert on what needs to be changed."

    Steven Gallegos is student body president at ELAC and said the vigil was needed because it kindles hope and love.

    "It brings the light even amongst the darkness,” he said, “and it brings a voice in the darkness that says no, we're not going to stand for that, we're going to continue, we're going to persevere, not alone but together."

    The investigation into the shooting in Monterey Park continues. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said in an update Wednesday that deputies still have not made the connection between the victims and the shooter.


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