Monterey Park honors memory of victims 1 year after deadly mass shooting

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Sunday, January 21, 2024
Monterey Park honors victims on 1 year anniversary of mass shooting
The city of Monterey Park held a vigil Sunday to mark one year since 11 people were killed and nine others were injured in a mass shooting at a dance studio.

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- The city of Monterey Park held a vigil Sunday to mark one year since 11 people were killed and nine others were injured in a mass shooting at a dance studio.

The vigil and night of remembrance at Monterey Park City Hall follows the tragic events of Jan. 21, 2023, when gunman Huu Can Tran entered Star Ballroom Dance Studio and opened fire.

The shooter then went to Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra and attempted to enter before he was stopped by Brandon Tsay, a young man lauded as a life-saving hero.

The gunman, 72, killed himself the following day after he was pulled over by police outside a Torrance strip mall.

"There's still so much healing to do but it's my hope to continue the process of healing together," Kristenne Reidy, whose father was killed in the shooting, said at Sunday's ceremony.

"That's why when the community comes together like this, it's invaluable for helping us recover our joy."

Woman who lost father in Monterey Park mass shooting shares grief journey: 'All you need is love'

One year later, Kristenne Reidy is still dealing with the pain of losing her father, but she doesn't consider herself a victim. Instead, she's using her journey as a source of strength to become a champion for compassion.

The mass shooting was the deadliest in L.A. County history -- and occurred on the eve of the Lunar New Year in a community that is majority Asian American and is considered the first suburban Chinatown in the nation.

According to the city of Monterey Park, the remembrance was intended to serve as a space for reflection and healing as residents and the larger community honor the memory of the victims.

In the months following the mass shooting, Tsay says he struggled with his mental health.

"I was very paranoid because the community itself felt like it was a dangerous environment to be in," he said. "It would be complete strangers out in public and I would just be looking over my shoulder, not giving them the benefit of the doubt."

One year ago, Brandon Tsay was closing up his family business, the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra where he worked as a manager. That's when the Monterey Park mass shooter entered.

"I now know that, from the community healing and people reaching out to me, it seems that there's a lot of positivity out there and I shouldn't let this one incident go to my head and say everybody is bad. I should take it with a grain of salt and believe that humans, there's innate good to them."

Tsay still manages his family's ballroom in Alhambra. Last weekend, he organized a community remembrance fair, which included mental health resources.

President Joe Biden on Sunday released a statement to mark one year since the mass shooting.

"One year ago today, during Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park, California, 11 innocent people were killed in a heinous act of gun violence that struck at the heart and soul of one of the largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities in our nation. In mere moments, friends and families gathering together in joy and hope were devastated by a senseless, horrific mass shooting. Two days later, this tragedy was compounded by another. As we mourned with the community of Monterey Park, we learned a gunman killed seven people in Half Moon Bay, California. Jill and I continue to pray for the families of the victims and many others traumatized by these attacks," the statement read in part.

Biden went on to say that since the shooting, California has passed more than 20 new gun safety laws and invested in proven solutions like gun violence intervention programs. He also asked Congress to do their part and ban assault weapons, among other things.

City News Service contributed to this report.