Asians and the elderly, the profile of the California killers surprised

Asians and the elderly, the profile of the California killers surprised

The perpetrators of the recent California shootings are elderly and of Asian descent and do not have the typical profile for this type of crime in the United States, although, like so many other killings, their motives appear to be rooted in personal rancor.

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Huu Can Tran, 72, shot dead 11 people at a dance hall in Monterey Park, a Los Angeles suburb, on Saturday night. On Monday, 67-year-old Chunli Zhao opened fire on two farms in Half Moon Bay near San Francisco, killing seven.

Asians and the elderly, the profile of the California killers surprised

Such carnage is not uncommon in the United States, where the Gun Violence Archives website has recorded 40 so-called “mass” shootings since Jan. 1, in which at least four people have been killed or injured in addition to the shooter.

But the sociological profile of the attackers surprised: Of the 180 people who carried out an attack in a public place between 2016 and 2020, according to a report published on Wednesday, only five were over 65 years old and seven were of Asian origin, the federal authorities. .

According to this report from the Secret Service, the agency responsible for protecting public figures, 57% of the attackers were white and 60% were under 34 years old.

These data are consistent with the composition of the American population, which has less than 6% Asian ancestry, and an over-representation of young people among perpetrators of crimes.

But spirits remain scarred by a series of bloodbaths committed by very young white men: the perpetrators of the shootings at a school in Texas (21 dead) and a supermarket in upstate New York (10 dead) were 18 years old; the one who shot at a July 4th parade in Illinois (seven dead) at the age of 21.

Aside from age and background, however, the Californian killers are not that atypical.

In more than half of the cases, “there was a direct relationship between the attacker and their target,” Lina Alathari, who heads the intelligence agency’s threat analysis center, noted at a news conference.

In California, the investigation is still in its infancy, but the first killer appears to be targeting a dance hall where he used to be and the second his workplace.

Furthermore, in general, “the main motive behind the attacks was by far resentment: the attackers sought revenge for what they perceived as abuse related to personal or professional matters,” Ms. Alathari added.

Seventy-year-old Huu Can Tran, who committed suicide after his crime, seems to fit this framework: In January, he went to the police station twice to accuse relatives of trying to poison him and fleeing a decade earlier.

A former friend assured CNN that he was “hostile” to the dance hall’s regulars, where he felt he was misrepresented.

The arrested 60-year-old Chunli Zhao appears to have chosen his victims. For reasons still unknown, he “hunted and chased” some people and not others, according to police.

According to the Secret Service report, three-fourths of those who carried out attacks in public places exhibited behaviors or comments that those around them found worrisome.

If Huu Can Tran hadn’t been noticed, the Half Moon Bay killer would have been charged with attempting to cut the throat of a former colleague and attempting to choke another man a dozen years ago, according to the Chronicle newspaper.

For Ms Alathari, before taking action, “there are often warning signs that should be considered”.

In terms of prevention, they believe the population should be encouraged to report more, rather than focusing on one population group.

The police must “ask the right questions to see if there is a risk of escalation by talking to (…) the relatives, but also the neighbors, the owners, etc.,” she recommends. “Everyone has a role to play, it has to be everyone’s effort.”