It’s clear that Monterey Park is unlike anywhere else in California.
The small city of about 61,000 is eight miles east of downtown Los Angeles, but it could be another country, with Chinese supermarkets, dumpling restaurants and store signs written in both Chinese and English.
More than 65 percent of the people who live here are Asian American. It was, as one academic described it, “a racial enclave in the suburbs that thrived because it refused to assimilate rather than cater unapologetically to its own immigrant community”.
Still, it is not immune to most American tragedies.But even if Monterey Park accepts 10 people were shot and killed In ballroom dancing classes, there is a quiet and peaceful determination.
In front of a police cordon on the street where the massacre took place, a group knelt in prayer, asking their God for strength.
Chinese New Year falls on the weekend, and just hours before filming, the streets were packed with thousands of people listening to live music or buying meat skewers from food stalls.
“It was horrible, like what happened to a lot of people on Christmas Eve or something, it was horrible,” Robert Chao Romero, a professor of Asian American studies at UCLA, told me.
Families with children dressed in traditional Chinese dress traveled from other parts of Los Angeles to Monterey Park on Sunday expecting the second day of the Lunar New Year to begin, but arrived to find booths and signs torn down and police cordoned off.
When they learned the reason, they were all terrified.
A local woman came to lay flowers, but she burst into tears as she thought of the contrast to what Monterey Park should look like this weekend.
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“I’m really looking forward to celebrating,” said Deanna Trujillo, who is part of Monterey Park’s large Hispanic population.
“It’s very painful and it saddens me that this is happening to these families. It’s one of the most united, kind and friendly communities out there.
“I may not be celebrating, but I want to be part of it and let the Asian community know how special they are to me.”
The evening news conference brought news that a 72-year-old suspect was found dead with gunshot wounds in a white van 30 miles away in Torrance.
For Monterey Park, the immediate danger has passed, to the relief of those who have been terrorized for hours, but gun violence is a never-ending scourge of life in America.
It was the deadliest mass shooting since 19 children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last May, but it was by no means the only one.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 33 mass shootings in the U.S. — the Gun Violence Archive defines a shooting as four or more people injured or killed, excluding the shooter.
Police believe the Monterey Park shooter used a semi-automatic rifle, which may have been obtained illegally, to kill and maim.
California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, but it’s still not enough to deter determined killers.
Another mass shooting sparked yet another call for tighter gun controls, especially against automatic and semiautomatic weapons designed to kill.
But the long list of mass shootings in the US tells us that any meaningful change is unlikely to happen in the near future.