LA mass shooting suspect kills 10 near Lunar New Year fest
By Andrew Dalton in Monterey Park
MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) — A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the fifth mass killing in the U.S. this month.
Capt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people died at the scene in the city of Monterey Park.
Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He said officers then went into the ballroom and found victims as firefighters treated the wounded.
Meyer gave no description of the male suspect or the weapon he used, or why police gave no information on the shooting for hours while the shooter remained on the run. He also said police were investigating another incident in the nearby city of Alhambra to see whether it was connected.
Meyer said it’s too early in the investigation to know if the gunman knew anyone at the ballroom or if whether it was a hate crime.
The Lunar New Year celebration had attracted thousands.
Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people that sits at the eastern edge of Los Angeles. The majority of its residents are Asian immigrants or their descendants, most of them Chinese. The dance studio in downtown Monterey Park is just a few blocks from city hall on its main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls that are full of small businesses whose signs are in both English and Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated, and Chinese films are screened in the city.
The tragedy marked not just the fifth mass killing in the U.S. since the start of the year but also is the deadliest since May 24, 2022 – when 21 people were killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.
Seung Won Choi, who owns the Clam House seafood barbecue restaurant across the street from where the shooting happened, told The Los Angeles Times that three people rushed into his business and told him to lock the door.
The people said to Choi that there was a shooter with a gun who had multiple rounds of ammunition on him.
Wong Wei, who lives nearby, told The Los Angeles Times that his friend was in a bathroom at the dance club that night when the shooting started. When she came out, he said, she saw a gunman and three bodies.
The friend then fled to Wei’s home at around 11 p.m., he said, adding that his friends told him that the shooter appeared to fire indiscriminately with a long gun.
The celebration in Monterey Park is one of the largest Lunar New Year events in Southern California. Two days of festivities were planned but officials canceled Sunday’s events following the shooting.
Associated Press writer Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.
Funeral for two officers shot and killed in Edmonton scheduled for next week
Flowers lay outside a police station for Constables Brett Ryan and Travis Jordan, who were shot and killed while on duty, in Edmonton on March 17, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton (CP) – Police say a regimental funeral has been scheduled for two Edmonton officers who were shot and killed in the line of duty last week.
The funeral for Travis Jordan, who was 35, and Brett Ryan, 30, is to be held March 27 at Rogers Place, the home arena for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League.
Police say the constables were responding to a family dispute at a northwest apartment complex early Thursday when they were shot multiples times by a 16-year-old boy.
Police say the boy shot and wounded his mother during a struggle for the gun and then shot and killed himself.
The officers’ bodies are set to be transported Tuesday from the medical examiner’s office to a funeral home.
Police say the public is encouraged to show their support by lining the route.
Investigators said last week the boy’s 55-year-old mother had called 911 because she was having trouble with the teen, but there was no indication of a threat of violence or that he had a gun.
Jordan and Ryan didn’t have a chance to reach for their guns before the shooting, which was “consistent with an ambush,” Deputy Chief Devin Laforce said Friday.
He said the boy’s 73-year-old father was in another room in the apartment at the time and was not injured.
Police had previously responded to a mental health call at the home, Laforce said, and the boy had no criminal record or outstanding warrants.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.
With overdoses up, states look at harsher fentanyl penalties
People whose family members have died from fentanyl overdose stand at a committee meeting on Jan. 19, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. With U.S. overdose fatalities at an all-time high, state legislatures are considering tougher penalties for possession of fentanyl, the powerful opioid linked to most of the deaths. (AP Photo/James Pollard)
By Gabe Stern, James Pollard And Geoff Mulvihill in Reno
RENO, Nev. (AP) — State lawmakers nationwide are responding to the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history by pushing harsher penalties for possessing fentanyl and other powerful lab-made opioids that are connected to about 70,000 deaths a year.
Imposing longer prison sentences for possessing smaller amounts of drugs represents a shift in states that in recent years have rolled back drug possession penalties. Proponents of tougher penalties say this crisis is different and that, in most places, the stiffer sentences are intended to punish drug dealers, not just users.
“There is no other drug — no other illicit drug — that has the same type of effects on our communities,” said Mark Jackson, the district attorney for Douglas County, Nevada, and president of the Nevada District Attorneys Association, which is pushing for stricter penalties for fentanyl-related crimes.
But the strategy is alarming recovery advocates who say focusing on the criminal angle of drugs has historically backfired, including when lawmakers elevated crack cocaine penalties in the 1980s.
“Every time we treat drugs as a law enforcement problem and push stricter laws, we find that we punish people in ways that destroy their lives and make it harder for them to recover later on,” said Adam Wandt, an assistant professor of public policy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He said people behind bars often continue getting drugs — often without receiving quality addiction treatment — then emerge to find it’s harder to get work.
Since 2020, drug overdoses are now linked to more than 100,000 deaths a year nationally, with about two-thirds of them fentanyl-related. That’s more than 10 times as many drug deaths as in 1988, at the height of the crack epidemic.
Fentanyl mostly arrives in the U.S. from Mexico and is mixed into supplies of other drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and counterfeit oxycodone pills. Some users seek it out. Others don’t know they’re taking it.
Ingesting 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, meaning 1 gram — about the same as a paper clip — could contain 500 lethal doses.
That’s what’s driving some lawmakers to crack down with harsh penalties, along with adopting measures such as legalizing materials to test drug supplies for fentanyl and distributing naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses.
Before this year’s legislative sessions began, a dozen states had already adopted fentanyl possession measures, according to tracking by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
And in this year, in one legislative chamber of liberal Oregon and one chamber of conservative West Virginia, lawmakers have agreed upon tougher penalties. In her State of the State speech this March, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, called on lawmakers to adopt a drug trafficking bill that includes tougher fentanyl sentences.
In Nevada, where Democrats control the Legislature, a bill backed by Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford would give one to 20 years in prison for selling, possessing, manufacturing or transporting 4 grams or more of fentanyl into the state, depending on the amount. It’s a change for Ford, who has supported criminal justice reforms including a sweeping 2019 law that, among other provisions, raised the threshold for such penalties to 100 grams. It would also remove fentanyl from the state’s “Good Samaritan” law, which exempts people from criminal drug possession charges while reporting an overdose.
“What we’ve learned is that lowering the thresholds for all drugs was overinclusive,” Ford said.
Harm reduction advocates are pushing Ford and others to rethink their support, arguing the thresholds for longer penalties can sweep up low-level users — not just the dealers the law is aimed at — as well as some who may not even know they are taking fentanyl. They warn that the state’s crime labs test only for the presence of fentanyl, not the exact amount in a mixture of drugs. Thus, people with over 4 grams of drugs containing a few milligrams of fentanyl could be subject to trafficking penalties, they say.
Rosa Johnson runs a needle exchange where she meets people who could face consequences should the stricter fentanyl bill pass. For the dozens of people that show up each day, it is rare for them to cite fentanyl as their “drug of choice.” But it’s also rare that fentanyl test strips come back negative, with the drug being “laced in a lot of things,” Johnson said.
Other lawmakers introduced two bills to create penalties for fentanyl with lower thresholds, though much of the internal debate surrounds the Ford-backed bill. Meanwhile, Nevada’s Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, a former sheriff, has vowed to introduce tougher legislation that would make possession of any amount of fentanyl the same felony threshold as fentanyl trafficking.
Both Republican-led chambers in South Carolina have passed fentanyl trafficking measures with bipartisan support, although lawmakers haven’t agreed on which version to send the governor. Senators also unanimously approved a bill allowing alleged drug dealers to be charged with homicide in overdose deaths.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford slammed colleagues for selling a “false bill of goods.” While Republican Rep. Doug Gilliam said he understood concerns about ambiguity, he said lawmakers had to send a “strong message” to drug dealers.
A Senate subcommittee heard emotional testimony from family members of people who died of a fentanyl overdose. Among them was Holly Alsobrooks, co-founder of an advocacy group that also supports more fentanyl test strips, opioid antidotes and rehabilitation centers. While Alsobrooks said there is no “perfect” solution, she said the fentanyl trafficking measures are the “best” answers she has heard.
“We are fully behind this bill,” she said. “And if people go to jail, they’re going to go to jail.”
Marc Burrows, who leads a Greenville-based harm reduction program that reports it has reversed 700 overdoses through the provision of opioid antidotes, said these bills could increase deaths by creating hesitancy among drug users to report overdoses.
“I just don’t know if a policy like this is the way to do it,” Burrows said.
Pollard reported from Columbia, South Carolina, and Mulvihill from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Pollard and Stern are members for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit service program that places journalists in newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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