Monterey Park shooting shocks Asian community at Webb


Leia Albornoz

Members of Webb’s Asian Affinity group, Ben Thien-Ngern (‘23), Ian Chang (‘23), Theresa Hu (‘24), Kaylynn Chang (‘23), and Yvette Shu (’23), meet in McCarthy to organize a debrief of the Monterey Park shooting. They discuss the effects the shooting has had on the Webb community and how to best support community members during this time.

On January 23rd, Lunar New Year’s Eve, numerous Asian-Americans danced to loud music in dim lighting. They were enjoying the night and celebrating Lunar New Year, one of the most important holidays for many Asian cultures where families and friends come together to welcome the new year and wish for good fortune. However, this year’s Lunar New Year celebration drastically differed from the previous ones for those at this dance studio.  

A gunshot interrupted the celebration at Star Ballroom, soon followed by many more. 42 rounds of shots were fired, 11 people died, and nine were injured. When the police arrived three to four minutes later, people lay wounded on the floor of the studio and others were pouring out of the scene. 

“I had some relatives nearby,” Yvette Shu (‘23) said. “I was pretty scared that this happened so close to them.” 

Due to the Asian identity of both the perpetrator and the victims, the tragedy has had a profound impact on many Asian communities. Because of Webb’s security team and protocols, it is relatively safe on campus. However, students have expressed emotional struggle along with confusion and grief for the Asian community.  

“In the Asian Affinity discussion, people in general were feeling very helpless,” Hanbo Xu (‘25) said.  

The identity of the shooter was unclear when the news was released. Many Webb students speculated that this crime was a hate crime committed by a person of another race. But many were shocked when they found out that the shooter was in fact an Asian man. 

“A lot of people said that they would’ve preferred if the shooter was a white person [because] when the shooter was Asian himself, it made everyone confused to how they should feel,” said Hanbo. “Usually, with hate crimes, there is another source that you can hate, but this time, it’s within the Asian community.” 

Such disorientation was reflected in Webb’s support system.  

“In the first few days, no one was saying anything, which I felt was very strange,” said Melanie Bauman, Director of Wellness. “And when Mr. Choi opened the Chapel, no one came. I think that this is not entirely surprising just in the way I have seen Asian-American crime processing. There seems to be a delay between the event and emotional processing.” 

“Only these couple of days [in the week after the shooting] have I actually had students talk about it,” said Eric Vos, Health Center Director. 

Though only now have students started to process this event, it could feel like that the world and even Webb has moved on from the news. New sources are reporting less and less on the shooting, and conversations have died down. 

“I’m afraid that it’s going to be a big deal for a little bit and then people are going to forget because that’s typically the narrative with Asian tragedies,” said John Choi, Director of Equity. 

Many students struggle to decipher what it means for them to recover from the event and move on without forgetting. As more people start to come to terms with this tragedy, there has been more attendance at related events. Webb has hosted an open chapel and an Asian Affinity discussion and debrief. Such community events have been of importance for many of Asian students at Webb. 

“I thought it was really nice how we came together and embraced this issue as a community instead of just having to deal with it on our own,” Omji Krishman (‘26) said. 

Even though the Monterey Park shooting is becoming less “breaking news,” it is important to remember this shooting and its victims. Students should continue to support each other and spread awareness of this tragedy.