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Ten people have been killed in a shooting near LA after a Lunar New Year festival

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Ten people have been confirmed killed in a mass shooting last night in Monterey Park, a city east of Los Angeles. The shooting happened after a Lunar New Year celebration that attracted thousands of people, leading to fears it might be a hate crime, though this is unconfirmed. Monterey Park is predominantly Asian American. NPR's Sergio Olmos has been at the scene. Good morning.

SERGIO OLMOS, BYLINE: Good morning.

RASCOE: Sergio, tell us what's known so far?

OLMOS: Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna gave a news conference just minutes ago. He said the incident happened last night in a ballroom dancing venue. Officers from Monterey Park Police Department responded after a call that occurred at 10:22 p.m. Pacific Time. Law enforcement said officers arrived there, and they found people pouring out of the venue, screaming. They found multiple gunshot victims inside. Ten people have been confirmed dead at the scene. At least 10 more were rushed to the hospital. They're in various conditions, from stable to critical condition. Sheriff Luna said that the suspect is an Asian man. He fled the scene, and he is not in custody.

RASCOE: So what is known about the possibility of this being a targeted hate crime against people of Asian heritage?

OLMOS: So Sheriff Luna stressed that it's too early to ascribe a motive for the crime. They're still investigating. He said, quote, "Everything is on the table. We don't know if this is a hate crime, defined by law." Authorities have said it's unclear if this was a targeted attack. They're investigating whether this was racially motivated. The shooting happened on a street where there are a lot of Asian businesses, restaurants, grocery stores. Monterey Park itself has a population of just around 60,000 people - 65% of that are Asian Americans; 27% of them are Latino. It's one of the first cities in the United States to have a majority of its residents with Asian ancestry. It's a quiet, peaceful area. Last night's shooting has sent shockwaves throughout the community there.

RASCOE: And can you tell us about the Lunar New Year celebrations there? They're a really big deal, right?

OLMOS: They're a really big deal. Monterey Park has been hosting one of California's largest Lunar New Year celebrations. It was supposed to be two days - yesterday and today. This morning, they announced that they would be canceled for security concerns. The city of Monterey converted its downtown area into a carnival zone. There's food stalls and amusement rides, and people were posting pictures last night and videos of themselves enjoying the fun. This is the first year that the Lunar New Year is an official state holiday in California. It's the first time anywhere that's happened in the U.S. And, again, police have had to cancel this morning's celebrations because of what occurred last night.

RASCOE: So what might come next?

OLMOS: So we know President Biden has been briefed on the mass shooting and is monitoring the situation. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that the president has been briefed by the Homeland Security adviser on the mass shooting in Monterey Park. He directed her to make sure the FBI is providing full support to local authorities and to update him regularly, as more details are known. We don't know many details though. We don't know where the mass shooter is. We don't know why police were not able to apprehend him. We don't know the motivation. We know the FBI has joined in the investigation. They are assisting local police and sheriff in trying to investigate not just where the shooter is, but some of those motivations. And I was out on the streets last night. There were a lot of people coming out to see what was going on. And people, understandably, were - had fear and wanted some answers.

RASCOE: That's NPR national security correspondent Sergio Olmos. Thank you so much for joining us.

OLMOS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Sergio Olmos