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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Jan. 24.
As the investigation continues into a gunman’s deadly attack in Monterey Park, news broke Monday of another mass shooting in California — the second within 48 hours.
Here’s what we know so far.
At least seven people were killed in two related shootings in the Northern California beach city of Half Moon Bay, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies found four victims dead in the 12700 block of Cabrillo Highway in an unincorporated area of the county; a fifth was transported to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries. Three other people were found dead from apparent gunshot wounds in a nearby area.
The suspect, believed to be a worker at one of the nearby farms or nurseries, was arrested about two hours after the shootings while sitting in a parked car at a sheriff’s substation. Authorities identified him as 67-year-old Zhao Chunli.
The victims are also believed to be workers at nearby farms, officials said.
The motive for the shootings is not known, sheriff’s officials said.
In Monterey Park, new details are emerging in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a dance studio on Lunar New Year’s Eve. A man armed with a semiautomatic pistol opened fire Saturday night at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, killing 10 people at the scene and wounding 10 others.
The death toll rose to 11 Monday after one person who was being treated at LAC+USC Medical Center died from their injuries, officials said.
Those pronounced dead at the scene were all in their 50s, 60s and 70s, according to the L.A. County coroner.
One was 65-year-old My Nhan, who was in her car, leaving a dance class she regularly attended when the gunman approached the studio and shot her.
Nhan’s niece told The Times Monday that her aunt was charming, cheerful and someone who always saw the good in others.
Three other victims were identified Monday by officials: Lilan Li, 63; Xiujuan Yu, 57; and Valentino Alvero, 68.
Family and friends have identified two others as Ming Wei Ma, whose age was not immediately available, and Nancy Liu, 63.
The shooter, who fatally shot himself Sunday in Torrance, was identified by authorities as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran of Hemet. Investigators are trying to piece together his background and what motivated his deadly attack. Law enforcement sources told The Times their focus is on the gunman’s prior interactions at the two dance studios he targeted.
Detectives believe the shooter frequented both the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park and the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in the neighboring city of Alhambra.
Roughly 20 minutes after the shooting in Monterey Park, the gunman entered the Lai Lai studio, “probably with the intent to kill two more people,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said in a news conference.
But quick action by 26-year-old Brandon Tsay, whose family owns the Alhambra studio, almost certainly averted more bloodshed. Tsay was in the lobby when the gunman entered, firearm in hand.
“My first thought was I was gonna die here. This was it,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” adding that the man appeared to be looking around the room “for targets” and “people to harm.”
Tsay recounted lunging at the gunman and, after a physical struggle, wrestling the gun from him. The gunman fled the building and drove away in a van after Tsay pointed the weapon at him.
The gun Tsay grabbed was a 9-millimeter semi-automatic MAC-10 assault weapon, officials later shared, which was used with an extended magazine and is illegal in California.
The tragedy brought horror and grief at a time when many in the Asian community are celebrating a fresh start and hoping for good fortune. Lunar New Year is the most important holiday for many Asian Americans, especially for those of Chinese and Vietnamese heritage.
“It’s like if a mass shooting happens on Christmas Eve,” Elizabeth Wang, a pastor visiting the Monterey Park area told The Times.
Star Ballroom Dance Studio has been in Monterey Park for more than 30 years and is considered a community fixture, popular among Chinese American immigrants and dancers of all ages looking to socialize.
“It’s going to take time to heal,” said Dariusz Michalski, who has taught at the studio for 12 years. “But the love for dancing will bring us back together. We won’t let anything like this happen again to take our happiness away.”
The Southern California branch of Asian Americans Advancing Justice launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the victims. As of Monday evening, it had raised more than $190,000.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California.
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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has become a major funder of tenant rights efforts across the country and owns hotels in L.A. for poor tenants. But residents at one in downtown Los Angeles are suing the organization, saying it discriminated against people with disabilities by neglecting to make elevator repairs. Los Angeles Times
It just got easier for (some) Angelenos to follow the state’s food waste law. L.A.’s Bureau of Sanitation says residents can now toss banana peels, coffee grounds, eggshells (if you’re lucky enough to find eggs these days) and other food scraps in the green bins designated for yard waste. That’s if you have your own trash bins; many apartment renters are on their own. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom declined to sign a bill that would have devoted more education funding to Black students in an effort to close the achievement gap. Newsom promised to include the funding in his next budget plan. His proposal is now out, but some advocates are concerned it doesn’t go far enough. CalMatters
The California Department of Transportation says the number of homeless encampments on its properties is growing, and it needs millions of dollars to clear them. Caltrans officials estimate they’ll close 1,200 encampments this fiscal year — a fraction of the more than 5,000 on their rights-of-way. Homeless advocates argue that Caltrans and other government agencies are wasting money on operations that are only shuffling unhoused people from one area to another. The Sacramento Bee
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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Flood control dams in L.A. County are at serious risk of overflowing. Thanks to January’s storms, five reservoirs on the south side of the San Gabriel Mountains have filled with mud and debris. One more strong storm could unleash it on foothill communities below, L.A. County officials warn. Los Angeles Times
Has California avoided another devastating winter wave of COVID-19? Transmission rates this season haven’t spiked as high as in the past two years, though health officials caution of lingering danger and the potential for new variants to emerge. “We still have a lot of virus in our communities,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, “but we are definitely in a promising place.” Los Angeles Times
Some bioswales recently built in the Bay Area were tested by January’s heavy rainfall. The eco-friendly landscapes, designed to slow storm runoff, proved to be a soggy success in reducing flooding in some concrete-heavy urban areas. San Francisco Chronicle
It’s hard to get into the the University of California, even for in-state students. San Francisco Chronicle reporters crunched the numbers statewide and mapped which public high schools have more applicants and higher acceptance rates. San Francisco Chronicle
Today marks the 175th anniversary of James W. Marshall’s discovery of gold in California, which sparked the 1849 Gold Rush and changed the trajectory of the U.S. territory. In an event this weekend at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, state officials began with a land acknowledgment of the Niesenan tribe, who originally lived on the land. The Sacramento Bee
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Today’s landmark love comes from Mike Young of Manhattan Beach and includes a time along with the place: The strand in Manhattan Beach at daybreak.
If there is a paradise in Southern California, it is on the strand in Manhattan Beach at dawn, where the rising sun brushes the sky and sea with amazing pastels, rewarding the early risers and surfers with a true, natural watercolor landscape. If you are lucky, you will glimpse the dolphins riding the waves, challenging the surfers for the prime spots or simply frolicking beyond the breakers to enjoy the warm water and one another. There is a reason the round house with the small community aquarium at the far end of the pier is iconic; it evokes the charm of the small beach community and hearkens back to an age when all we needed was a stroll on a boardwalk to make a day special.(Video) 7 killed in another California mass shooting
What are California’s essential landmarks? Fill out this form to send us your photos of a special spot in California — natural or human-made. Tell us why it’s interesting and what makes it a symbol of life in the Golden State. Please be sure to include only photos taken directly by you. Your submission could be featured in a future edition of the newsletter.
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