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New Haven mayor says this weekend's Yale-China Lunarfest will have enhanced security

California Shooting
Jae C. Hong
Kenny Loo, 71, prays outside Star Dance Studio for the victims killed in Saturday's shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Authorities searched for a motive for the shooting at the ballroom dance club during Lunar New Year celebrations. The slayings sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities and cast a shadow over festivities nationwide.

Like other cities across the United States, New Haven will further secure Lunar New Year celebrations in the wake of a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California.

New Haven mayor Justin Elicker said Monday there will be increased police patrols at this weekend’s Yale-China Lunarfest celebration, which bills itself as the largest Lunar New Year festival in Connecticut and will be held fully in person for the first time since 2020.

"We want to make absolutely sure that the Yale-China Lunarfest will be conducted safely and that it’s welcoming and open to everyone," Elicker said.

The mayor said the city is in contact with the FBI to keep an eye out for potential threats. NPR reports that New York City and San Francisco, among other cities, are also ramping up law enforcement of festivities after at least 11 people died in the shooting at a ballroom dance studio on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Na-Rae Kim, associate director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, said she will help her students process the shooting. But she stressed that the takeaway from the tragedy in Monterey Park shouldn’t simply be about the race of the shooter or the race of the victims.

“I do think it is important to think about race, but more intersectionally with the history of gun violence, history of masculinity,” she said. “The fact that he’s an immigrant — various different things that are going on there — to get a full picture of what happened.”

Kim said she’ll talk to her students about the shooting. To help them more fully grasp it, she said she’ll work to relate the shooting to other incidents of gun violence in the U.S., not just ones impacting the Asian American community.

Officials at the state Capitol in Hartford said they plan to hold a vigil Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the state Capitol atrium for victims of the shooting in California.

“This vigil and availability period will address this senseless act of violence ... during a time of joy for the Asian American community during the Lunar New Year celebrations; those gathered will celebrate the lives of those harmed and work toward finding solutions for acts of violence like this,” officials said.

The search for the motive behind the massacre in Monterey Park, near Los Angeles, led police to a mobile home community as they probed the past of the 72-year-old suspect Monday and his relationship to the dance studio. The investigation is ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Frankie Graziano’s career in broadcast journalism continues to evolve.