Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics
newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Leave your feedback
Less than 48 hours after a gunman’s rampage shook the sleepy Southern Californian city of Monterey Park, a mass shooting in Northern California left a second trail of devastation. Officials said the gunman opened fire at a farm and another agricultural business near Half Moon Bay, a small coastal city outside of San Francisco. Amna Nawaz reports.
The deadly toll of gun violence is again our top story tonight, yet another shocking attack in California and then, just a few hours later, a deadly shooting in Washington state. Three people in Yakima, Washington, were killed in what appears to be a random shooting at a convenience store there.
Amna Nawaz is co-anchoring again from California tonight.
Geoff, we're here outside the scene of Saturday's horrific shooting in Monterey Park.
And, even today, folks have continued to file through to bring flowers, to say a prayer, to pay their respects. But even before all the names of those killed in that attack were confirmed here, news broke of another mass shooting in California. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have now been 39 mass shootings across America in 2023 alone, more mass shootings than days of the year.
Less than 48 hours after a gunman's rampage shook the sleepy Southern California city of Monterey Park, a mass shooting in Northern California, 30 miles outside San Francisco, left a second trail of devastation.
John Williams, Community Member:
I mean, you hear about this on the news all the time, but when it comes home to you like this in a small town like this, it really does bring it home. And just — it's just deplorable.
Officials said 66-year-old Chunli Zhao opened fire Monday at a farm and another agricultural business near Half Moon Bay, a small coastal city of about 12,000 people.
Zhao worked at the farm, and the victims included Asian and Latino farmworkers. Officers arrested Zhao about two hours after the attack when they found him in his car parked at a sheriff's substation.
Christina Corpus, San Mateo County, California, Sheriff:
All of the evidence we have points to this being the instance of workplace violence. Our hearts are broken. And we're working together with the community to heal in this tragic incident.
Even in a state with some of the nation's strictest firearm laws, this month has brought a wave of gun violence across California.
Last Monday, six people, including a teenage mother and her baby, were gunned down in the Central Valley, a shooting thought to be linked to gang activity. On Saturday, the massacre in Monterey Park, then the killings in Half Moon Bay. And last night in Oakland, a shooting left at least one person dead and seven others wounded.
California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted last night that he was at the hospital meeting with victims of one mass shooting when he got word of the shooting and Half Moon Bay. "Tragedy upon tragedy," he wrote.
Back in Monterey Park, residents continue to grapple with the trauma of Saturday night's shooting.
Nina Loc, Chinatown Service Center:
It's just a roller coaster. We're going waves after waves after waves.
Nina Loc is the director of behavioral health for the Chinatown Service Center, which is providing counseling for grieving families and community members here in multiple languages.
Mainly right now is Cantonese and Mandarin. We do have other Chinese dialects, like Chaozhou, Fuzhounese, Taishanese.
Why is it so important to provide that in-language service?
Yes, the rapport-building. If they see somebody of the same ethnicity, it's easier for them to open up and make that connection and know that we understand each other.
She says cultural pressures and stigma often keep people in insular communities like Monterey Park from seeking help and flagging others who could be dangerous.
I think one of the most underserved population are the AAPI older men, because of the cultural aspect and expectation of men in Chinese culture. The men, the responsibility that they have to carry, the family name, it's not top of their priority should address and learn about their emotion, to express their emotion.
To even consider seeking help is, like, very low on their priority.
Today, officials released more identities of the people killed in Saturday's shooting.
Gay Yuen, Monterey Park Resident:
It's not right.
For Gay Yuen, who's lived in Monterey Park for 40 years, each new name brings more pain.
As the faces start showing up in media, then you can't help but recognize someone, or they're either wives, aunties, mothers or friends of friends.
Yuen says that the shootings in her town and now in Half Moon Bay, both carried out by older Asian men, have shattered her sense of safety.
To think that many of us chose this neighborhood 40 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, very often, we pick these neighborhoods for the safety for our children. When shooters were non-Chinese, then it's, oh, it happened somewhere else, right? But now we have two back-to-back incidents when there are Chinese.
We need to deal with it. We need to feel the pain. But we also need to sit and look at, how do we prevent this?
And the streets here that have been mostly still for the last couple of days are starting to come back to life. People are out and about. Shops are beginning to reopen as well.
But people here tell us immigrant communities like this, they are built on hope, and they are fueled by resilience. Geoff, people here say they're going to be relying on both of those in the days ahead.
Amna, as the investigation into the Half Moon Bay shooting begins, the one into the shooting in Monterey Park continues. What more have we learned about the gunman and the victims?
That's right, Geoff.
I mean, just today, we learned from the L.A. Coroner's Office that the victims here in Monterey Park all ranged in age from 57 to 76. We're also learning incremental details about the gunman here, about his life from people coming forward and sharing stories in various news reports.
But the biggest question here revolves, one, around the weapon, that semiautomatic pistol that he used, that had an extended high-capacity magazine. That firearm is illegal and has been banned here in California for decades. Officials say they are going to look into when and how and where he got that.
I also spoke earlier to the chief of police here in Monterey Park, Scott Wiese. He says the biggest question for him is motive, how someone could do something like this. He says, because the gunman is now dead, that is a question he may never have an answer to.
In the meantime, though, we are joined here for that and more by a very special guest. Erika Moritsugu is the deputy assistant to President Biden and the White House's senior liaison to the Asian American Pacific community.
Erika, welcome. Thanks for being here.
Erika Moritsugu, Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian-American and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison: Thank you, Amna. Thank you for having me.
So, you have just arrived.
President Biden announced that Vice President Harris will be coming tomorrow. Why is it important for you to be here and for her to come?
I think that it's important to show up, in the first instance, when there's a crisis and a tragedy that befalls the community that's already felt under siege and in terror, to be present.
And that's one of the reasons why the president asked me to come here immediately in the wake of the tragedy, even as it was still unfolding, to be with the community, to deliver his messages of healing and condolences on behalf of him and Dr. Biden, but also because I am a member of the community.
This is my community too. And I'm the representative of the president to the community, but also of the community back to the president. And so when Vice President Harris arrives tomorrow, it will be to be here in community, to be — lay a wreath at the memorials, where lights and candles and prayers are just replete, and to meet with the family members, to express not just the vision and the wish for hope and healing…
… but to put it into action after we learn from them what their needs are.
We have heard, of course, this conversation around gun safety and gun reform come up.
Now, President Biden has said he would like Congress to act to pass an assault weapons ban. When you talk to people here, is that what they want to see?
It is. It is.
And that's something that's been reflected not just on the margins, but irrespective of the motive or the victims, we have a gun violence problem. And it's — it is creating terror and fear in community members, particularly members of communities of color and what the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community that has seen its unfair share of hate-fueled violence and gun deaths.
You know, we need to point out two does not make a trend, we need to say.
However, both the shooter here in Monterey Park and the shooter up in Half Moon Bay were both older Asian men, who are not typically the perpetrators of that kind of mass gun violence. What do you make of that?
Well, when the president signed into law the first gun violence prevention measure, the first in 30 years, the Safer Communities Act, he said at the time, and he still believes and he will repeat that it wasn't enough.
And so, irrespective of, again, the shooters and what's still not known and that we're going to continue to learn and heal from it, we can't ignore the fact that there's a gun violence problem, and that there are too many tragic deaths, number one, and, number two, that Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities live in fear.
And these deaths and the deadly violence that have beset the community has — is a problem that persists, in addition to the fact that there's a mental health crisis that I think besieges us all. And we can't forget to center the fact that there are victims and that there are families and surviving members and community members and friends and allies and neighbors of those victims who are on a long path and a long journey to healing.
There has been an interesting study recently that looked at gun ownership among Asian Americans. As you noted, Asian Americans across the country have been through a lot in the last three years.
We saw a surge in anti-Asian hate during the pandemic. The study found that people who experienced that racism over the last couple of years were more likely to buy a firearm for the very first time. And I just wonder what you make of that. What does that say to us?
Yes, I think that one of the things that I have observed is that people have not — are not leaving the house, that they're not able to live their everyday lives.
And that's also a problem, because the isolation that people feel in times of terror and fear is not healthy either. And that's one of the things that I have seen here on the ground when I came here last — when I arrived yesterday, when I came to the two makeshift memorials, when I spoke to community members and community leaders and allies and neighbors of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, is that the path to healing is a long — long process.
It's not the work of a day. One of the reasons why I was honored to be sent out here immediately was to listen and learn to the community members and community leaders about what's needed on this journey to healing.
Erika Moritsugu, deputy assistant to President Biden and the White House's senior liaison to the Asian American Pacific Islander community, thank you for your time.
Thank you, Amna.
Watch the Full Episode
Amna Nawaz serves as co-anchor of PBS NewsHour.
Layla Quran is a general assignment producer for PBS NewsHour. She was previously a foreign affairs reporter and producer.
Sam Lane is reporter/producer in PBS NewsHour's segment unit.
Support Provided By: