As the Monterey Park community grapples with the raw pain and trauma caused by Saturday night’s mass shooting, local schools are upping their security and readying mental health support services.
The shooting, which killed at least 10, took place in a ballroom at 122 W. Garvey Ave., where residents were gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Police ID’d the shooter as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, who shot and killed himself on Sunday when he was pulled over in his van by police in Torrance, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.
The scene of the massacre is walking distance from Ynez Elementary School and Monterey Vista Elementary School.
The Alhambra Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Montebello Unified School District, which all serve Monterey Park, shared messages of condolences on Sunday and detailed their plans to support students.
Both LAUSD and MUSD announced that there will be extra police presence and mental health support services at schools in the Monterey Park area on Monday, Jan 23.
AUSD students will not be in school on Monday as it is a designated pupil-free day for staff professional development. Grief counseling will be available for AUSD students when they return to campuses on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
“Each of us at Alhambra Unified School District join in the shock, outrage, and profound sorrow over the violence last night in Monterey Park, home to many of our families and beloved neighbors,” said AUSD Superintendent Denise Jaramillo in a letter to the community. “In what should be a time of joint celebration for Lunar New Year, we are instead standing ready to help our community with grief and support.”
Jamarillo also emphasized the importance of parents talking to children about the incident and gun violence in an age-appropriate manner.
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Her advice included emphasizing children’s safety, limiting children’s exposure to media coverage of the event and taking an action step to honor those impacted by the mass shooting to help them cope with grief. This could include writing a letter to impacted families or placing a flower on a community memorial, she said.
Jamarillo urged parents and guardians with children younger than 12 to focus on explaining how they will keep them safe and to stay away from discussing gory details or the national problem of gun violence. However for older adolescents, she said it is important to talk about social/political and moral issues of gun violence.
The MUSD also acknowledged the importance of discussing the senseless tragedy in a sensitive manner.
“We understand that in light of this senseless tragedy, some difficult conversations might be necessary,” stated MUSD in a community message. “We want our students, staff, and families to know that we are here for you. MUSD’s mental health professionals are ready to support students, families, and staff, as needed.”