LIVE: At least 18 dead in 3 days in a brutal wave of gun violence in California

Published January 24, 2023 at 7:56 AM EST
FBI agents arrive at a farm Tuesday where a mass shooting occurred Monday in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Justin Sullivan
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Getty Images
FBI agents arrive at a farm Tuesday where a mass shooting occurred Monday in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

The suspected gunman was an employee at one of the two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay, Calif., where he shot and killed 7 people. The attack is the third shooting with multiple people hurt or killed in California in three days.

Here's what we're following:

Gov. Newsom calls for further gun control in wake of California shootings

Posted January 24, 2023 at 9:37 PM EST

Gov. Gavin Newsom closed his remarks in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday afternoon by accusing state and federal level Republicans of balking at “every step of the way on gun reform.”

“Shame on these judges that are rolling back the laws that we’ve established in the state of California,” Newsom added.

California has some of the strictest gun laws on the books in the nation. Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates against gun violence, ranks California No. 1 in the country for gun law strength. But there are of loopholes and illegal workarounds that allow people to skirt California's registration and background check laws.

Mass shootings are so uniquely an American phenomenon, the governor told reporters, that the Chinese immigrants who witnessed the attack on Monday were confounded by the events unfolding in front of them. Even a translator, who is working with them, was at a loss for words, he said.

As their friends were shot and killed, the workers rushed to the victims’ sides “and they thought they were acting,” Newsom explained.

“They'd never heard a sound like that, they'd never seen a scene like that, they didn't even know how to comprehend a gunshot wound. That's not something they ever experienced, let alone comprehend that.”

"Only in America do we see this kind of carnage, this kind of chaos, this kind of destruction of communities and lives and confidence and sense of safety and belonging," Newsom said.

He then praised state lawmakers for enacting strict gun laws.

"Gun safety works,” he said. “We will not back away from that resolve."

San Mateo County Sheriff clarifies the genders of people shot in Half Moon Bay

Posted January 24, 2023 at 8:33 PM EST

During Tuesday's afternoon news briefing, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus clarified that the seven people who were killed in Monday’s shooting included five male and two female victims.

Another man is currently being treated for injuries at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

A local council member told NPR's Eric Westervelt all were Chinese farm workers.

Newsom touches on the living conditions of the farm workers killed in Half Moon Bay mass shooting

Posted January 24, 2023 at 8:23 PM EST

After spending time with mourning families in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California Gov. Gavin Newsom talked about the long-lasting effects of living through a mass shooting.

“The trauma and damage, the devastation, is felt for generations in some cases,” Newsom said during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. “Communities being torn asunder, no one feeling safe.”

He added that the farm workers in Half Moon Bay who witnessed their colleagues being killed would likely seek new jobs elsewhere, never to return to a place of such violence.

“And by the way, some of you should see where these folks are living. The conditions they’re in,” he said.

The two shootings occurred at Mountain Mushroom Farms and Concord Farms. Workers there are housed in shipping containers. “Folks getting nine bucks an hour … no health care, no support, no services, but … providing a service to every one of us each and every day.”

The governor noted that $9 an hour is well below California's $15.50 minimum hourly wage.

California Gov. Newsom visits mourning Half Moon Bay community

Posted January 24, 2023 at 7:23 PM EST

California Governor Gavin Newsom visited with grieving families in the coastal community of Half Moon Bay on Tuesday afternoon.

“I didn’t want to be here and I don’t want to be here,” he told reporters in a raspy voice, adding that he was processing the news of the violence that has ripped through the state over the last few days.

Holding a stack of yellow notecards in one hand, he noted that they are a collection of talking points he’s written each time he has addressed the public following a mass shooting. “From San Jose, the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and then the one, literally, almost four years ago to do the day, the week, related to the Thousand Oaks shooting where 13 people were gunned down at the Borderline Bar and Grill,” he said.

Newsom came to Half Moon Bay, a small farming community about 30 miles south of San Francisco, after a spending time in Monterey Park following the deadly shootings there. He explained that he declined to hold a press conference while he was in southern California, preferring instead to walk through the community, meeting people one on one. “And I’ll tell you, I did that selfishly because I didn’t have the guts to come up and say the same things we hear again and again and again.”

The governor also visited injured victims in a local hospital, meeting with one man who told him he couldn’t afford to the medical treatment he had received.

Looking back at his note cards, Newsom rattled off a list of devastating mass shootings that have rocked the nation: “Aurora, Midland, Orlando, Buffalo, Parkland, San Jose, Sutherland, Sandy Hook, Boulder, and I started writing in Monterey Park, and now I got to write in Half Moon Bay. What the hell is going on?”

“Only in America!” he exclaimed. “Number one in gun ownership, number one in gun deaths. … We’ve allowed this to happen.”

As California reels over attacks, Washington officials launch manhunt for shooting suspect

Posted January 24, 2023 at 4:52 PM EST

While we've been following the California violence, news has emerged about another West Coast shooting in Yakima, Wash., that left at least three people dead overnight.

Yakima Police Chief Matt Murray said the presumed homicide suspect is 21-year-old Jarid Haddock, releasing this photo to the public. In a statement on Twitter, Murray urged the public to call 911 if they spotted Haddock and warned people not to approach him.

During an early morning news conference, Murray described the incident as two separate shootings – one at a Circle K gas station and the other at an Arco – perpetrated by the same shooter and taking place just minutes apart.

“The first shooting was inside the [Circle K] store. Then he came outside and shot a victim outside the store. And then he went across the street and apparently shot one more person,” Murray said.

“It appears to be a random situation. There was no apparent conflict between the parties. The male just walked in and started shooting.”

Initially, the police department believed there may have been a fourth victim, who they said may have been killed when the shooter walked up to parked vehicle and shot inside. According to video footage, Murray said, “You can see the party in that vehicle move to the passenger seat and then the suspect stole his car.”

Hours later, the police department said new information “indicated there may not have been a fourth shooting victim (at the Arco).”

It is unclear if that is referring to the person inside the car.

The suspect fled the scene in the same car – a gray or silver sedan that police believe is a 200 Chrysler. He remains at large.

Context

How gun violence deaths in the U.S. compare with the rest of the world

Posted January 24, 2023 at 4:07 PM EST

The quick succession of horrific shootings this month in California has once again shone a spotlight on how frequent this type of violence is in the United States compared with other wealthy countries.

The U.S. has the 32nd-highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world: 3.96 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019. That was more than eight times as high as the rate in Canada, which had 0.47 deaths per 100,000 people — and nearly 100 times higher than in the United Kingdom, which had 0.04 deaths per 100,000.

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On a state-by-state calculation, the rates can be even higher. In the District of Columbia, the rate is 18.5 per 100,000 — the highest in the United States. The second-highest is in Louisiana: 9.34 per 100,000. In Georgia and Colorado — the scenes of the two most recent mass shootings — the rates are a bit closer to the national average: 5.62 per 100,000 in Georgia and 2.27 in Colorado.

The numbers come from a massive database maintained by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which tracks lives lost in every country, in every year, by every possible cause of death.

"It is a little surprising that a country like ours should have this level of gun violence," Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health and epidemiology at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told NPR. "If you compare us to other well-off countries, we really stand out."

➡️ You can read more on how gun violence in the U.S. compares with other nations here.

The district attorney in San Mateo County called the attack 'an unprecedented tragedy' for the community

Posted January 24, 2023 at 3:47 PM EST

The district attorney of San Mateo County – home to Half Moon Bay – joined the growing chorus of leaders to call for gun reform in the wake of Monday’s shooting that left seven people dead in the ocean-side community.

“This an unprecedented tragedy in San Mateo County,” District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe said in a statement on Tuesday. “We continue to call on our Federal and California legislators to enact laws to help bring this senseless wave of violence to an end.”

“Here at the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, we will continue to aggressively prosecute those who violate the gun laws of California and hold them accountable,” he added.

The suspect in the Half Moon Bay shooting, Chinli Zhao, was arrested at a sheriff’s office about 4 p.m. PT, Monday, where he was parked. He is expected to be arraigned tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. PT, though specific charges have not yet been released.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is traveling to Half Moon Bay

Posted January 24, 2023 at 2:56 PM EST
Gavin Newsom met with Brandon Tsay who disarmed the gunman who opened fire at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park
Jason Armond
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Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
California Gov. Gavin Newsom met with Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the gunman who opened fire at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, on Monday in San Marino, Calif.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will be headed to Half Moon Bay later today to meet with the families of victims, local leaders and members of the community who’ve been affected by Monday’s shooting.

This will be the third time Newsom is meeting with mass shooting survivors and the families of victims in as many days. On Sunday and on Monday, the governor was in Monterey Park in the aftermath of the attack there that left 11 people dead at a ballroom dance studio.

Newsom is expected to address the media while in Half Moon Bay starting at approximately 2 p.m. local time.

Context

Half Moon Bay is a normally quiet coastal town known for agriculture and surfing

Posted January 24, 2023 at 2:14 PM EST
An aerial photo, show's Martin's Beach in Half Moon Bay, California on September 19, 2018.
JOSH EDELSON
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AFP via Getty Images
An aerial photo, show's Martin's Beach in Half Moon Bay, California on September 19, 2018.

In an interview with CNN this morning, Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose described her community as "a small agricultural, coast-side town" that has "never experienced anything like this."

"I'm still in shock. I think all of us are in shock," she said. "Our hearts are torn out of our chests for all these individuals and families, our neighbors, our friends, the people who work in our community and live in our community."

With a population of roughly 11,000, Half Moon Bay is a study of contrasts. On the one hand, workers in the surrounding San Mateo County include some of the highest-paid tech workers in the country.

Golf courses and luxury homes dot the crescent-shaped coastline, perhaps best known as home to the Mavericks big-wave surfing festival.

But the coastal proximity and mild weather also make Half Moon Bay a verdant hub of agricultural activity.

According to the San Mateo County government, the roughly 1,700 farm workers in the region arenearly all immigrants who earn minimum wage.

Just In

Authorities release a list of victims in the Monterey Park shooting

Posted January 24, 2023 at 1:25 PM EST

The coroner's office in Monterey Park, Calif., has released a full list of victims from this weekend's shooting at a dance studio.

Here's the full list:

  • My Nhan, female, age 65
  • Lilian Li, female, age 63
  • Xiujuan Yu, female, age 57
  • Muoi Ung, female, age 67
  • Hong Jian, female, age 63
  • Yu Kao, male, age 72
  • Chia Yau, male, age 76
  • Valentino Alvero, male, age 68
  • Wen Yu, male, age 64
  • Ming Ma, male, age 72
  • Diana Tom, female, age 70

NPR and other outlets reported a different spelling of the second victim's name, based on information provided by the coroner, who today apologized for the typo.

Just In

Firearm used in Half Moon Bay shooting was 'legally purchased and owned,' authorities said

Posted January 24, 2023 at 1:16 PM EST

Taking questions after today's press conference, a public information officer for the San Mateo sheriff, Eamonn Allen, said the suspect's firearm, a semi-automatic handgun, was purchased and owned legally under California law.

Allen also clarified that the suspect didn't surrender to a sheriff's deputy as some have reported, but rather that Chunli Zhao followed officers' commands. He's been cooperating with the investigation since then, Allen said.

Allen said the suspect wasn't known to the sheriff's office ahead of the shooting.

"All the evidence we have right now points to a workplace violence incident," he said, echoing the sheriff's earlier phrasing and saying he couldn't provide any further information on a possible motive.

Just In

Some victims were migrant workers, sheriff says

Posted January 24, 2023 at 12:42 PM EST

Speaking in a press conference today, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said authorities are waiting to release the names and identities of victims until they can notify next of kin.

"As some of these victims were members of our migrant community, this represents a unique challenge when it comes to notifications and identifications of next of kin," she said. "All of the evidence we have points to this being an instance of workplace violence."

She said the victims were seven men and one woman, a mixture of Hispanic and Asian descent.

She confirmed that the suspect, 67-year-old Chunli Zhao, was employed by Mountain Mushroom Farms, which was also the site of the first shooting.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Zhao will be arraigned tomorrow afternoon. The charges have not yet been determined.

ICYMI

Children were present at the scene of the first shooting, sheriff said

Posted January 24, 2023 at 12:35 PM EST
In an aerial view, residences are seen next to greenhouses at a farm where a mass shooting occurred on January 24, 2023 in Half Moon Bay, California.
Justin Sullivan
/
Getty Images
In an aerial view, residences are seen next to greenhouses at a farm where a mass shooting occurred on Monday in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

During yesterday's press conference, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus described Concord Farms as a nursery on a "big rural location" and said children were among those who witnessed the violence unfold.

"People are working. It's spread out. There's people that live at that location as well," she said. "It was in the afternoon when kids were out of school."

"For children to witness this, it's unspeakable," she added.

Police have yet to say whether they plan to share updates, including the victims' identities, today.

Just In

Owners of a farm targeted in the Half Moon Bay shooting say they're 'shook' by the violence

Posted January 24, 2023 at 12:16 PM EST
In an aerial view, greenhouses are seen at a farm where a mass shooting occurred on Monday in Half Moon Bay, California.
Justin Sullivan
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Getty Images
In an aerial view, greenhouses are seen at a farm where a mass shooting occurred on Monday in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Monday's second Half Moon Bay shooting site was a family-owned mushroom farm called Concord Farms, located on the outskirts of the town.

In an email statement provided to NPR, manager Aaron Tung thanked the community for its support and law enforcement for their swift response to the shooting.

"We are shook and very eager to gain more information from the authorities and their investigations," the statement reads. "Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the Chinese American community —from Half Moon Bay to Monterey Park."

Police said yesterday that the gunman and the first four victims were all believed to be employees of the farm.

Following the shooting at Concord Farms, the gunman targeted another location, roughly a mile away. The suspect was taken into custody roughly two hours later in the parking lot of a police substation in Half Moon Bay.

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From LAist

The joy of ballroom dance will outlast the Monterey Park shooting, participants say

Posted January 24, 2023 at 11:53 AM EST
Pashree "SuperPat" Silapee, left, convenes a Thai social group that met occasionally at Star Dance. The theme for their Jan. 2023 meeting at a Burbank restaurant was Lunar New Year.
Mariana Dale
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LAist
Pashree "SuperPat" Silapee, left, convenes a Thai social group that met occasionally at Star Dance. The theme for their Jan. 2023 meeting at a Burbank restaurant was Lunar New Year.

For decades, Star Dance’s spacious hardwood floors drew professionals and amateurs alike to Monterey Park’s downtown.

Championship dancers rented space by the hour to teach private lessons. New immigrants and longtime community members learned the one-two-three steps of waltz and other ballroom dances from an international cast of instructors.

On weekends, $10-$20 bought a night of dancing and community.

“When you do the social dance, you know, your mind is out there — nothing but happiness,” said longtime social dancer Pashree Silapee. “That’s good exercise and good meditation.”

Violence shattered the community’s celebration of the Lunar New Year on Saturday when a man opened fire during one of the studio’s busiest nights of the year.

“That place is supposed to be very happy place, it's supposed to be warm,” Silapee said. “How could it happen?”

Reporter Mariana Dale has the full story at theLAist.

Context

Here's what the research says about what could prevent mass shootings (and what won't)

Posted January 24, 2023 at 11:28 AM EST
Assault-style rifles pictured for sale at Freddie Bear Sports on January 11, 2023 in Tinley Park, Illinois. Guns like this are now banned under a new statewide policy.
Scott Olson
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Getty Images
Assault-style rifles pictured for sale at Freddie Bear Sports this month in Tinley Park, Ill. Guns like this are now banned under a new statewide policy.

Every mass shooting in the U.S. raises calls for better policies to prevent more tragedies. But as NPR's science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboycereports, not all of the policies most often brought up in the wake of such events would actually reduce gun deaths.

Greenfieldboyce talked to experts about the data and found that two policy approaches have significant protective effects against gun deaths:

  1. Requiring gun purchasers to go through a licensing process.
  2. State bans on large-capacity magazines or ammunition-feeding devices for semi-automatic weapons.

One caveat? The body of research that scientists can draw from is limited, because mass shootings account for less than 1% of the roughly 40,000 people killed by guns each year in this country, according to the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers University.

➡️ Read about what policies didn't work in Greenfieldboyce's full story.

President Biden calls on Congress to pass a federal assault weapons ban

Posted January 24, 2023 at 11:13 AM EST
President Biden is pictured walking between columns at the White House
Alex Wong
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Getty Images
President Biden walks towards the Oval Office on Monday.

The White House issued a fresh statement on the shooting in Half Moon Bay this morning, calling the attack a "senseless act of gun violence."

"Following a briefing from my homeland security team, I have directed my administration to ensure local authorities and the broader Half Moon Bay community have the full support of the federal government in the wake of this heinous attack," President Biden said in the statement.

Biden also called on Congress to pass legislation that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21. Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. introduced the legislation in the chamber yesterday.

"Even as we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action," Biden said. "I once again urge both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this Assault Weapons Ban to my desk, and take action to keep American communities, schools, workplaces, and homes safe."

Gov. Gavin Newsom calls the 2nd Amendment a 'suicide pact'

Posted January 24, 2023 at 11:02 AM EST

On Monday, the governor of California was at a hospital meeting with victims of the Lunar New Year mass shooting in Monterey Park. Then, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, he was pulled away to be briefed about yet another shooting, this one in Half Moon Bay.

“Tragedy upon tragedy,” he wrote.

As the state contends with another mass shooting, Newsom is already vowing to work with the California legislature on new gun control legislation.

“The Second Amendment’s becoming a suicide pact,” he said in a Monday interview with CBS News. “We’ll continue to find whatever loopholes we can and continue to lead the national conversation on gun safety reform,” he said.

California already has a variety of gun laws in place, including mandatory waiting periods, background checks, red flag laws and a ban on military-style assault weapons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its firearm death rate is lower than all but six other states.

“And yet, with all that evidence, no one on the other side seems to give a damn,” Newsom said.

Context

There have already been more mass shootings than days in 2023

Posted January 24, 2023 at 10:46 AM EST
People gather at a candlelight vigil for victims of a deadly mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio on January 23, 2023 in Monterey Park, California.
Mario Tama
/
Getty Images
People gather at a candlelight vigil for victims of a deadly mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif.

It's tricky to characterize, let alone track, what exactly constitutes a mass shooting, but the strong impulse to sort acts of violence into categories says something about our attempts to make sense of them.

If you're in that camp, here are a few statistics to take note of, courtesy of the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that takes data from law enforcement, media and government sources:

  • There have been 39 mass shootings since the start of the year (so, shootings in which there were a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including the shooter).
  • Some 26 mass shootings had occurred by this same point in 2022.
  • An estimated 2,801 people have died by gun violence this year so far.
  • Of those, the majority, 1,584 people, died by suicide.

California has the toughest gun laws in the U.S., a gun safety nonprofit says

Posted January 24, 2023 at 10:25 AM EST
Police tape from the San Mateo Country Sheriffs office mark the parameter of the scene of a shooting at two agricultural businesses in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday.
Aaron Kehoe
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AP
Police tape from the San Mateo Country Sheriffs office mark the parameter of the scene of a shooting at two agricultural businesses in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday.

With so many high-profile shootings taking place in California, it's worth noting that the state has the strongest gun laws in the nation.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates against gun violence, ranks California No. 1 in the country for gun law strength.

In its analysis, it notes California also has the eighth-lowest rate of gun deaths and the sixth-lowest gun ownership rate.

Authorities have said they believe the firearm recovered from the Monterey Park suspect was not legal to purchase in the state of California. Officials said that they recovered a semi-automatic rifle from the Half Moon Bay suspect's vehicle, but could not confirm whether it was obtained legally.

Everytown credits the state for being the first to enact consumer safety standards for firearms and one of the only to require all new handgun models to have microstamping technology that makes it easier to trace guns used in crimes.

"In 2022, the state enacted new laws to further regulate ghost guns, hold firearm industry members accountable, prohibit marketing firearms to children, require school districts to notify families about secure firearm storage, and more," it adds.

Everytown looks at the laws states have on the books in several different areas, from product safety to guns in public to sales and civil rights.

California has most of the 50 laws that the organization tracks, with few exceptions, including: Officials do not have the authority to deny gun purchases if the buyer poses a danger, does not block the concealed carry of guns in bars, does not limit qualified immunity for police officers.

Everytown says data show that states with strong gun laws see less gun violence, but cautions that those alone can't shield them from tragedy. It takes time for new laws to take effect, for example, and states with strong laws can be vulnerable because of neighboring states with weaker laws.

And, as the president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors told Morning Edition, certain laws — like regulating assault weapons — are up to the federal government.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, highlighted that discrepancy in an interview with CBS Evening News.

"We'll continue to lead the national conversation on gun safety reform. And the data bears out it works, it saves lives," he said. "California's 37% lower than the death rate of the rest of the nation, and yet, with all that evidence, no one on the other side seems to give a damn. I can't get anything done in Congress."

Here's what we know about the shooting in Oakland, Calif.

Posted January 24, 2023 at 9:55 AM EST

A shootout at a gas station in Oakland, Calif. yesterday killed one person and wounded seven others, police said.

Authorities responded to the scene shortly after 6 p.m. local time, just over an hour after back-to-back nursery shootings in nearby Half Moon Bay claimed seven lives.

Police say they found shell casings and evidence of a shooting but no victims. They later learned of eight gunshot wound victims who self-transported to local hospitals. One of the victims succumbed to injuries while the remaining seven are in stable condition.

Police are still investigating, and no arrests have been made. They believe there may have been multiple shooters.

What constitutes a mass shooting?

Posted January 24, 2023 at 9:23 AM EST

While mass shootings are an all-too-common occurrence in the U.S., there is still no consensus on what exactly constitutes one.

The Gun Violence Archive — which has tracked 39 mass shootings so far this year — defines them as "a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident."

The Associated Press, whose style NPR follows, is much more vague.

In a 2017 "Ask the Editor" response, it says it doesn't have a specific definition for a mass shooting. Four years later, it again supplied that "definitions vary," but offered up one:

"A database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University defines mass killings as four or more dead, not including the shooter," it said.

The National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center (NMVVRC) explains that there is no universal definition of mass violence crimes, mass murders or mass killings, and that researchers, criminal justice experts and public policy entities often use different definitions.

Some focus on the number of deaths; others count crimes that result in few deaths but many injuries. Some focus on the method used, while others include crimes committed with any weapon. Some stress the perceived motive of the perpetrator or their relationship to the victims.

U.S. Congress defines mass killings as "three or more killings in a single incident" that occur "in a public place," according to NMVVRC. The FBI has generally defined “mass murder” as a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered, within one event, and in one or more locations in close geographical proximity.

➡️For more on why the debate continues and what to keep in mind, check out this explainer from Guns & America at member station WAMU.

Mourners and survivors pay respects at the Monterey Park dance studio

Posted January 24, 2023 at 9:05 AM EST
People gather Monday at a candlelight vigil for victims of the deadly weekend shooting at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif.
Mario Tama
/
Getty Images
People gather Monday at a candlelight vigil for victims of the deadly weekend shooting at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif.

NPR's Nathan Rott is in Monterey Park, Calif., covering the weekend massacre that killed 11 people at a ballroom dance studio.

Authorities there told Rott that they conducted a search of the 72-year-old deceased gunman's house and found a number of items of interest — including items to make homemade firearm suppressors and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

They did not, however, find anything that gave them a clear understanding of the man's motives.

"Did he plan this? Was it the day of? Was it a week before? What drove a madman to do this?" asked Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna. "We don't know. But we intend to find out."

The death toll rose by one yesterday after one of the people injured in the shooting succumbed to her injuries. The victims are all older, in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

Rott spoke with a couple who were present at the ballroom on the night of the shooting and returned yesterday to pay their respects to the victims. They said the place is popular with middle-aged and older locals, including many retirees.

Tony and Jennifer — they didn't want to use their last name out of respect for some of the friends they lost in the shooting — said they've been coming regularly to the dance hall for years.

"The first round, I was not aware it was [a] gun shooting," Jennifer said. "I thought it was fireworks. The second time, [Tony] realized it was not fireworks, so he pulled me down to the ground right at that corner right there and everybody was lying down, hiding behind that door."

The couple escaped right after through an emergency exit — but not before seeing multiple people who had been shot, some of them friends.

🎧Listen to Rott's full story here.

San Mateo County official says California's gun laws help, but more are needed

Posted January 24, 2023 at 8:54 AM EST

Monterey Park, Calif., residents will honor the victims of a weekend mass shooting with a vigil tonight, while authorities in the Northern California city of Half Moon Bay investigate shootings at two nurseries after taking a suspected gunman into custody.

In an interview on Morning Edition, the president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Dave Pine (D), called for more “common sense gun regulation.”

“We hear about mass shootings in this country almost every day, but we could never think that one would happen in our own backyard, particularly in such a close-knit and small community like Half Moon Bay," he said.

Pine told A Martinez that officials are trying to extend help to residents of his community.

“Right now we're reaching out to the community with mental health services and trying to help the families as best we can in trying to make sense of this, what is absolutely senseless act," he added.

Pine said California’s strict gun control measures — including its gun storage ordinance and gun buybacks — have helped, but more restrictions are needed.

“It is heartbreaking. It is discouraging. But it's also a callout to the federal government to do more on the federal level," Pine said. "We simply have too many guns in this nation. We have more guns than people. And the research has shown that we're unique in the world in gun violence and it's really attributable to the total number of guns that are available. So when people are in crisis, they often have access to a gun. So we have to make sure guns are better regulated.”

Pine called California a leader in gun legislation, saying statistics show that its state and local laws have made a difference compared to other states.

"So our efforts have helped, but it's not perfect," he added. "And there are certain things, particularly the regulation of assault weapons, that are in the hands of the federal government that we need help from.”

Listen to the full conversation here.


Alice Woelfle contributed to the broadcast interview.

Context

Two California shooting suspects are over age 66

Posted January 24, 2023 at 8:40 AM EST

For anyone reading the coverage of California's shooting with a sense of deja vu, one detail might jump out as anomalous: The age of the suspects.

The suspected shooter behind the attacks at a dance studio in Monterey Park was 72 years old when he died by a self-inflicted gunshot on Sunday. The suspect in custody for the Half Moon Bay shootings is 67.

Identifying the average age of mass shooters in the U.S. is tricky given there's no set definition of what a "mass shooting" entails and trackers vary in how far back their data reaches. But no matter which measure you look at, the age of shooters tends to skew lower.

The Violence Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center, puts the median age of mass shooters at 32.

Jillian Peterson, one of the project's co-founders, told NPR that the suspected Monterey Park shooter is two years older than the previous oldest person to commit what is their definition of a mass shooting (to shoot and kill four or more people in a public space).

Young men, in particular, "are more likely to get in fights, more likely to be impulsive ... they haven't had full brain development," said Jonathan Metzl, a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University.

And then there's the snowballing effect of copycat shootings.

"We've interviewed perpetrators and they literally say, 'I saw myself in previous perpetrators. I identified with them,' " said Peterson of the Violence Project.

"And before, if you wanted to find other people to celebrate mass shootings with, that was pretty difficult. But now, you can find entire online communities," she added.

➡️ Read more about why mass shooters tend to be young and male.

Authorities found hundreds of rounds of ammunition at the Monterey Park suspect's home

Posted January 24, 2023 at 8:26 AM EST
A man takes a closer look through the glass at the interior of The Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California on January 23, 2023.
Frederic J. Brown
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AFP via Getty Images
A man takes a closer look through the glass at the interior of The Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Monday.

Hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a rifle and material to make homemade suppressors were seized from the home of the man police say is responsible for the mass shooting this weekend at a Monterey Park ballroom and dance studio.

Investigators served a search warrant last night at the suspect’s home in Hemet, Calif.. Inside, they found one .308-caliber rifle, hundreds of .308-caliber ammunition and 9 mm rounds of ammunition, both loose and in boxes, said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

Luna also released more details of evidence found at the Monterey Park studio and in the van in Torrance, where the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police recovered a handgun inside van, registered to the suspect.

At the dance studio, Luna said, they found a large capacity magazine and 42 shell casings. The suspect had been disarmed at a second club in Alhambra. That gun was a 9mm semi-automatic mac-10 assault weapon, Luna said.

Investigators are looking at where the suspect got the guns. He had been arrested for illegal possession of a firearm in the 1990s.

➡️ Read more about the Monterey Park shooting.

Context

Here's a list of the mass shootings we've covered this week

Posted January 24, 2023 at 7:56 AM EST
A woman and a small child hold lit candles
Mario Tama
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Getty Images
A woman holds a child at a candlelight vigil for victims of the deadly weekend shooting in Monterey Park, Calif. The vigil was held Monday at City Hall in the predominantly Asian American community.

Yesterday's shooting in Half Moon Bay was just the latest in what feels like a wave of recent gun attacks that left people dead or seriously injured this week. Many of them occurred in California.

Here's a list of some of public shootings in the last three days:

Here's what we know about the shooting in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Posted January 24, 2023 at 7:55 AM EST
A San Mateo County sheriff deputy walks towards police tape as law enforcement officials conduct an investigation following a mass shooting yesterday in Half Moon Bay, California. Seven people were killed at two separate nursery locations.
Justin Sullivan
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Getty Images North America
A San Mateo County sheriff's deputy walks toward police tape following a mass shooting Monday in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Seven people were killed at two separate nursery locations.

Location:

A gunman opened fire on two landscaping nurseries in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, on Monday.

The two locations are about a mile away from each other, the sheriff said.

Suspect:

The suspect was identified as Chunli Zhao, a 67-year-old Half Moon Bay resident, the sheriff's office said. He is in custody and cooperating. Law enforcement does not have a motive for the shooting.

Zhao was found in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Sheriff's Office at the Half Moon Bay police substation at 4:40 p.m. A semi-automatic handgun was found in his vehicle, authorities said. Zhao acted alone and there is no outstanding threat to the public, the sheriff's office said.

The shooter was believed to be a worker at either one or both locations, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

Victims:

Sheriff's deputies arrived at the first location around 2:22 p.m. local time and found four victims dead of gunshot wounds, with a fifth victim also wounded. Three more victims were found at the second location soon thereafter.

The victims were believed to be workers at the nurseries, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

An eighth person was at Stanford Medical Center in critical condition, she said.

➡️ Read the full story here.