What started as Monterey Park’s largest event of the year, ended in tragedy after a gunman killed 11 people at a dance studio just hours after the city’s Lunar New Year festival — something Monterey Park City Council Member Thomas Wong said is compounded by a rise of Asian hate across the country.
Lunar New Year is a large, popular holiday for many Asian cultures around the world, Wong said, including in Monterey Park where there is a large Asian American community. About 65% of residents are of Asian descent and some 100,000 people from across Southern California typically turn out for Lunar New Year celebrations.
This was the first year the city’s celebration was in person since the pandemic began in 2020.
“I was excited to get back together in person to celebrate community, to bring families together, but instead we’re dealing with this tragedy and trying to get through this together,” Wong told CNN Monday.
He described the shooting Saturday as “tragedy piled on tragedy.”
“We’ve been on edge the last few years as Covid rose and impacted our communities, and the rise of Asian hate in our communities as well, and to deal with this on top of that — for our local community — has just been tremendously tragic,” he said.
Despite hardships, Wong said he has seen communities come together to support each other with “neighbors checking in on neighbors, family checking in on family,” he said.
“The outpouring of support has been encouraging in this time of tragedy,” Wong said.
Police are still investigating the motive of the shooting. Wong said he hopes to have more answers soon to work on trying to prevent it from happening again.