The California community ravaged by Saturday’s ballroom massacre once lured in immigrants by being touted as “the Chinese Beverly Hills,” and Monterey Park remains a tight-knit town for many Asian-Americans.
So it was no surprise that everyone seemed to know someone who knew someone affected by the weekend horror, carried out when gunman Huu Can Tran stormed the dance club and killed 11 people and injured at least 9 more before taking his own life.
Home to about 60,000 people — almost 65 percent of whom are Asian-American — Monterey Park was American’s first suburban Chinatown, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Fewer than 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the town was marketed as an enclave for the rich but now has a socioeconomically diverse community, from high-end condos to boarding houses where immigrants spent $15 a night to live on a couch.
It’s home to the county’s first Asian-American woman to become a mayor, and Congresswoman Judy Chu, the first Chinese American woman to be elected to Congress.
“Monterey Park is a city that is tight-knit, where people know each other very well,” Rep. Chu said in an interview with Time magazine after the shooting. “I want Monterey Park to be remembered for its incredible diversity. It is a city that is majority Asian, and we have made sure that everybody feels welcome in the city.
“We have great schools. We have businesses that are thriving, and especially our Chinese restaurants,” she said.
Tran’s gruesome attack came just hours after the community kicked off its multiday Lunar New Year celebration, which was being held in person for the first time in three years because of COVID.
The Star Dance Studio, where the shooting took place, was known to attract older Chinese residents who wanted to dance and enjoy themselves, the LAist reported.
Two of the 11 slain victims — My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 63 — have been identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner. The other nine unnamed victims included a woman in her 50s, two women in their 60s, two men in their 60s and three men in their 70s.
“This was a time when there would be so many events in the community that everybody looked forward to,” Chu said of the fated weekend.
Currently, four of the city’s five council members are Asian-American, two of whom are gay.
“We have a strong and loving community here in Monterey Park,” council member Yvonne Yiu told The Los Angeles Times. “We need to show the strength and decency of our community to each other. To reach out with a helping hand and be there in the moment of need. This is what defines us, this is what it means to be a community.”