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The death toll in the Monterey Park shooting rises to 11


We have to take a moment to distinguish between two mass shootings, both in California, both in the last few days.


One shooting came yesterday in Half Moon Bay. In that rural community. A man opened fire at a farm and a plant nursery and killed seven people.

INSKEEP: Then there's the shooting at Monterey Park last weekend. The death toll there from a shooting at a dance hall is now 11. NPR's Nathan Rott is covering the massacre. He's on the line. Nathan, good morning again.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How is this story evolving?

ROTT: Yes, slowly. You know, authorities ran through a search that they had conducted of the 72-year-old deceased gunman's house yesterday. They said they found items to make homemade firearm suppressors and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.


ROTT: They did not, however, say they found anything that gave them a clearer understanding of this man's motives. Here's Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.


ROBERT LUNA: Did he plan this? Was it the day of? Was it a week before? What drove a madman to do this? We don't know. But we intend to find out.

INSKEEP: What more are you learning about the victims?

ROTT: So we started to get some of the names and ages of the victims. Others are still being withheld until their families can be notified. We learned that all of the victims are older. They're in their 50s, 60s or 70s. I actually talked to a couple who were there the night of the shooting yesterday outside of the dance hall. They'd come to pay their respects. And they said the place is very popular with middle-aged aged and local - and older locals, lots of retirees. The names of these two folks are Tony and Jennifer. They did not want to use their last name out of respect for some of the friends they lost in the shooting. We actually walked over to an open window that looks into the dance hall where the shooting happened. And there, you know, are still balloons on the ground. Jennifer pointed to the far corner, and here's what she said.

JENNIFER: We were hiding in the corner, lying down after the second round of the shooting. The first round, I was not aware it was a gun shooting.

ROTT: What did you think? Did you think it was fireworks?

JENNIFER: I thought it was fireworks. Yeah, I thought it was fireworks. The second time, he realized it was not a firework. So he pulled me down to the ground right at the corner right there. And everybody was lying down, hiding behind that door.

ROTT: Remember, Steve, this happened on the Lunar New Year Eve. And Jennifer said they escaped right outside of an emergency exit after that but not after seeing multiple people who had been shot. And some of them were their friends.

INSKEEP: Nate, that's really powerful. You can almost imagine yourself with them, down there on the floor, trying to hide behind that door. Did they see the attacker?

ROTT: They did. And, you know, they said neither of them recognized him. There's been some questions to the sheriff's department, some reporting in the LA Times, other outlets. Congressman - Congresswoman Judy Chu said that it's possible that this gunman had a relationship with the dance club. That has not been confirmed by investigators yet. Tony and Jennifer - they both have gone to this place weekly, biweekly for years, and it's got a really rich community. But they said they did not recognize him when they saw him in person or in the photos.

INSKEEP: That's got to be just one of many questions investigators still have.

ROTT: Yeah, I mean, motive is going to be top of line and then also learning more about the victims.

INSKEEP: NPR's Nathan Rott is in Monterey Park, Calif. Thanks so much.

ROTT: Yeah, thank you, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.