CPP left in sorrow after mass shooting in Monterey Park

By Darren Loo, Feb. 7, 2023

The CPP community was struck with sorrow and a feeling of insecurity after a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, left 11 dead and nine injured the night before Lunar New Year. 

Monterey Park is about 17 miles west of Cal Poly Pomona and about seven miles east of downtown Los Angeles with many CPP students living around the area. Over 65% of Monterey Park’s population is Asian American according to the United States Census Bureau. The shooting occurred at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, late in the evening, where many people were celebrating the incoming Year of the Rabbit. Most of the casualties from the dance studio were also Asian.

“The shooting has made me feel much less safe in the city because, for one, throughout all my life, I’ve lived in Monterey Park and it’s always been a relatively safe city, somewhere I could walk around by myself and not feel like I’m in harm’s way,” said CPP history student My Quach. “But when the shooting was reported, we were all like ‘how could this happen here?’ and overall, I feel like it’s gotten a lot scarier living here.”

Quach also explained how many people in Monterey Park were worried that the shooting was a hate crime against Asian Americans. When news broke that the shooter was also Asian American, people in Monterey Park felt kind of relieved that it wasn’t a hate crime but also scared because this is someone from the same community.

After the Monterey Park incident, the shooter also went to a ballroom in Alhambra, a neighboring city to Monterey Park, where he was stopped by Brandon Tsay, who likely saved many lives. Thousands, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and Governor Gavin Newsom, have gathered in Monterey Park for vigils to honor the 11 victims that passed away from the shooting.

Darren Loo | The Poly Post

Jerry Kwan, a social justice leader of the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center, as well as a resident of a neighboring city, explained how important it is for the community to get together, as well as how the community themselves play a major role in keeping each other safe.

“Other than more police presence, I would think a way to stay safe is to foster more community,” Kwan said. “A lot of bad things happen when people feel like they’re isolated from the community or isolated from resources that can help them get to a place of well-being.”

In the United States, so many mass shootings happen that people are beginning to get desensitized to the events. Many students either had no idea about what happened in Monterey Park or knew very little and only learned about the Monterey Park shooting from the mass email University President Soraya M. Coley sent out. According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of Feb. 4, there have been 54 mass shootings with over 300 total casualties.

Eric Fun Lee, a resident of San Marino who grew up in Monterey Park, also explained how mass shootings happen so often nowadays, to the point where people see it as not a big deal, and how this is uniquely an American thing. 

“I look at this and it happens so often that I think we have been desensitized, like if this happened in Hong Kong, I could assure you that this would be front-page news for like an entire year or like the story of the century,” Lee said. “Here in the U.S., it’s kind of like, only a few died, it’s not really a big deal, only unless kids get shot or it’s in massive numbers, Americans just aren’t going to care as much.”

After this tragic incident, members of the community have mixed emotions but ultimately, residents of Monterey Park are proud to be a resident of Monterey Park and many are still optimistic about the future of the community.

“After this incident, I feel like that the residents have a sense of pride, and I have a sense of pride that I lived and grew up in Monterey Park, so I’m hoping that something good comes out of this and that the residents take more ownership of their city, and that they take pride in being a resident of Monterey Park,” Lee said.

Feature image by Darren Loo

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