Washington, Jan 22 (EFE).- Police are seeking an Asian man in the mass shooting on the weekend in Monterey Park, California, in which 10 people died and at least 10 others were wounded.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said that the description police received on the suspect indicates that he is an Asian man.
After the shooting, the suspect fled the scene and has not yet been located.
The gunfire erupted at 10:22 pm Saturday night at the Star Ballroom, a dance hall in Monterey Park, some 13 km (8 mi.) east of Los Angeles.
Luna said at a press conference that when authorities arrived at the scene they found 10 people already dead. Another 10 were transported to different area hospitals, some of them in critical condition.
Reportedly, five of the dead were men and five were women.
Police are still investigating whether or not the shooting is linked to an incident occurring 20 minutes later in the nearby suburb of Alhambra, also at a dance hall and in which people there managed to disarm the attacker, who fled without opening fire.
“When officers arrived on the (Monterey Park) scene they observed numerous individuals, patrons … pouring out of the location screaming. The officers made entry to the location, and located additional victims,” Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Capt. Andrew Meyer told reporters.
“The Monterey Park fire department responded to the scene and treated the injured, and pronounced 10 of the victims deceased at the scene,” he said, adding that “there are at least 10 additional victims that were transported to numerous local hospitals that are listed in various conditions from stable to critical.”
On Sunday morning, Sheriff Luna told reporters that the priority now is to arrest the person who opened fire at the Monterey Park site, charge him and prosecute him with all the rigor of the law, regardless of what his motive was.
Authorities have not yet been able to determine whether this was a “hate crime,” saying that “everything is on the table.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden called for the FBI to provide its “full support” to local authorities in Monterey Park, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying on Twitter that the president had been updated on the situation by his Homeland Security advisor.
“The President has been briefed by the Homeland Security Advisor on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. He directed her to make sure that the FBI is providing full support to local authorities, and to update him regularly today as more details are known,” Jean-Pierre tweeted.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom also said via Twitter: “Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence. Our hearts mourn as we learn more about the devastating acts of last night. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
Monterey Park is home to just over 60,000 people, about 65.5 percent of whom are of Asian descent. The shooting took place shortly after hundreds of people had attended a Lunar New Year celebration, a traditional Chinese festival, in the area that reportedly ended at around 9 pm.
Police said the celebration, which was due to continue on Sunday, had been canceled “out of an abundance of caution and reverence for the victims.”