A Wake of Tragedy in California After Mass Shootings

Hong Lee of Torrance and her son paid their respects outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Monday.Credit…Alisha Jucevic for The New York Times

As California was reeling from this weekend’s tragedy, a mass shooting in Monterey Park, yet another struck.

On Monday afternoon, seven people were shot to death at two sites in Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. A suspect was taken into custody, and the authorities said he worked at a plant nursery that was one of the sites. Law enforcement officials are still trying to understand his motives.

The back-to-back massacres illustrate what for many feels like a near constant drumbeat of mass shootings in America. Already, in the first 24 days of the year, there have been at least 39 mass shootings nationwide, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group that tracks gun violence and defines a mass shooting as an event in which four or more people are shot or killed.

In California, the pace has felt especially unrelenting. Last week, gunmen killed six people in Tulare County, including a 16-year-old and her 10-month-old child. Then, on Saturday, there was the Monterey Park shooting that killed 11. Less than 48 hours later, the massacre in Half Moon Bay happened.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter on Monday that he had been at a hospital, meeting victims of the mass shooting in Monterey Park, when he was “pulled away to be briefed about another shooting.”

“Tragedy upon tragedy,” he said.

I’ve been a reporter in California for a decade, and I’ve covered a half-dozen mass shootings here. These are horrific incidents that leave behind loved ones who struggle, long after reporters and the public have moved on, to adjust to lives that have been reshaped by tragedy. Lives without their parents, their friends, their partners, their children.

Some of the deadliest shootings in our state have taken place in recent years — a 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino that killed 14, a mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks in 2018 that left 12 dead and another at a rail yard in San Jose in 2021 that killed nine. By my count, the Monterey Park shooting is the fourth deadliest in California history.

More on California

  • A Wake of Tragedy: California is reeling after back-to-back mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.
  • Storms and Flooding: A barrage of powerful storms has surprised people in the state with an unrelenting period of extreme weather that has caused extensive damage across the state.
  • New Laws: A new year doesn’t always usher in sweeping change, but in California, at least, it usually means a slate of new laws going into effect.
  • Wildfires: California avoided a third year of catastrophic wildfires because of a combination of well-timed precipitation and favorable wind conditions — or “luck,” as experts put it.

It’s true that California has a lower firearm mortality rate than most states in the nation and that people who live here are about 25 percent less likely to die in mass shootings, compared with those who live elsewhere in the nation.

But in these moments, those numbers feel like poor consolation for families and communities grieving such senseless loss.

For more:

  • Follow our coverage of the Half Moon Bay shooting.

  • Brandon Tsay, the operator of a dance hall in Alhambra, is being praised as a hero after he disarmed the Monterey Park gunman.

  • What we know about the gunman suspected of carrying out the Monterey Park shooting.

Credit…Ian C. Bates for The New York Times

The rest of the news

  • Flood protection cuts: Several flood protection projects in California are on hold after Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed cutting their funding to help cover a $22.5 billion budget deficit, The Associated Press reports.

  • Intelligence panel: Hakeem Jeffries, the House minority leader, renominated two California Democrats to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Homeless count: Los Angeles’s annual homeless count, which will take place today through Thursday, comes on the heels of heightened concerns about its accuracy, LAist reports.


  • Fired officers: Six officers were fired last year from the Fresno Police Department as part of 58 disciplinary actions, The Fresno Bee reports.


  • Another shooting: One person died and seven others were sent to hospitals Monday evening after a shooting in Oakland, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Increased security: The Oakland Police Department will provide “additional resources and high visibility where necessary” during upcoming Lunar New Year events, SFist reports.

  • Tech industry layoffs: Tech companies are shedding employees and cutting back even as the larger U.S. economy chugs along with a low unemployment rate.

Credit…ZenHouse Photography

What you get

For $2.4 million: A waterfront retreat in Lake Forest, a four-bedroom home in San Francisco and a 1977 house near the ocean in Huntington Beach.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

What we’re eating

Maple pecan pancakes.

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Robert Losik:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Credit…Mary Inhea Kang for The New York Times

And before you go, some good news

Hands jostled around a large metal basin, plastic gloves crinkling as they massaged pounds of julienned radish, green onion and a spicy, fragrant paste of red pepper flakes, brined shrimp, ginger and garlic.

“This goes so much faster when everyone pitches in,” said Irene Yoo, bopping to K-pop tunes as she taste-tested the mixture and adjusted it with a bit more salt. She described the spirit of the evening as heung — a Korean word that captures the feeling of collective energy, joy and community.

Yoo, 36, a Korean American food writer and recipe developer, was hosting a Lunar New Year dinner party at her apartment. She’s among a generation of young Asian Americans who are building community through shared cultural traditions established by their elders and finding ways to make them their own.

Read more about younger Asian Americans creating their own traditions to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Briana Scalia and Jaevon Williams contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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