America was supposed to be a place of safety for Jose Romero when he arrived some two years ago to work on a California farm alongside other immigrants from Mexico and China.

Romero was killed on Monday, shot dead by a gunman along with six other farm workers in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco.

Even in a nation all too familiar with gun violence, the shooting was stunning, coming just two days after another gunman opened fire at a ballroom in Monterey Park, an Asian-American enclave outside Los Angeles.

In all, 18 people died in the back-to-back shootings, rattling two close-knit communities that had drawn immigrants seeking opportunities.

“You look to improve your life and then you end up with this,” said Romero’s cousin, Jose Juarez, quiet and sullen on Tuesday as he took a break from cooking at a Mexican taqueria in a Half Moon Bay strip mall.

That police said the attacks were carried out by assailants known within the community – Huu Can Tran, 72, frequented the Monterey Park dance studio and Chunli Zhao, 66, worked on a Half Moon Bay farm – only added to the sense of fear felt by immigrant groups that have been the targets of racist rhetoric and attacks in the United States.

As many as 32 per cent of Asian immigrants and 23 per cent of Latino immigrants in California say they are “very worried” about becoming victims of gun violence in their adopted home – three times the level of fear reported by people born in the United States, according to data gathered by the University of California, Los Angeles, and shared with Reuters.

The massacres heightened those concerns for some people.

Antonio Perez, who now lives in Half Moon Bay after moving from Mexico in 1983, said he feels stuck between cartel violence in his homeland and gun violence in the United States.

“We never expected this kind of extreme here,” Perez said, shaking his head. “What a tragedy.”

About 610km (380 miles) south, in Monterey Park, residents expressed fears in the aftermath of the dance hall shooting that the poison of America’s gun culture and epidemic of mass shootings was infecting Asian-American communities.

“Americans can have guns, there are guns everywhere,” said Frank Hio, 36, who is originally from China. “It’s dangerous here.”

‘Dangerous here’: California massacres heighten immigrants’ fears of US gun violence

FBI officials near a crime scene in Half Moon Bay, California, the scene of a mass shooting on Monday. Photo: AP

Experts believe there are 393 million guns in private hands across the United States, which in 2022 was a country of 333 million people. The US recorded 42 mass killings last year.

In the thriving suburb known for its Asian stores and restaurants, some people expressed anguish that the gunman came from within the community.

“The shooters are Asian, and the victims are Asian,” said Rolando Favis, 72, who moved to the United States from the Philippines 38 years ago.

But many also said they had been more fearful of their safety for several years, following the rise in hate crimes against Asians in the wake of the pandemic and rhetoric from then-President Donald Trump blaming China.

‘Dangerous here’: California massacres heighten immigrants’ fears of US gun violence

A vigil for the victims of a shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California. Photo: AP

In the aftermath of the pandemic, Asian-American gun ownership increased. A third of those who owned guns said they carried weapons more frequently amid the anti-Asian incidents, and another third said they kept guns loaded or unlocked in their homes, according to a study by the University of Michigan.

At the Euro Arms Inc gun store in Alhambra, 5km from the scene of the Monterey Park massacre, store assistant Wesley Chan said gun sales had risen since the start of the pandemic, including among Asian-Americans in the area.

“Everyone was scared and wanted to protect themselves,” he said.

About 9.3 per cent of Asian immigrants keep guns in their homes in California, compared with 5.6 per cent of Latino immigrants and 12 per cent of white immigrants, said Ninez Ponce, the lead researcher on the UCLA study. Overall, about 17.6 per cent of Californians of all backgrounds keep a gun at home.

Both Tran and Zhao used semi-automatic pistols. Police have not said where or when they were acquired.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

NEWS RELATED

The trendy £35 lightweight jacket you’ll wear all spring

The one jacket you need this spring. (Marks & Spencer) It might seem hard to believe when you look out of the window, but spring is on its way. And when we're blessed with those gloriously sunny, warmer days, it's way too toasty to be walking around in your ...

View more: The trendy £35 lightweight jacket you’ll wear all spring

Cindy Williams Dies: ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star Who Appeared In ’American Graffiti’ & ‘The Conversation’ Was 75

Cindy Williams Getty Images Cindy Williams, who starred in the smash Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley after appearing in two Best Picture Oscar nominees — George Lucas’ American Graffiti and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation — has died. She was 75. Her family told the Associated Press today ...

View more: Cindy Williams Dies: ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star Who Appeared In ’American Graffiti’ & ‘The Conversation’ Was 75

No interest in ‘watering down’ LTC standards: Ontario minister

Ontario‘s long-term care minister says he will take a look at new national standards for the sector, but he has no interest in “watering down” what the province is already doing to improve care. The Health Standards Organization released updated standards today, including that residents should get at least for ...

View more: No interest in ‘watering down’ LTC standards: Ontario minister

Texas Medical Center increases parking fees. How families in need can find help

How much is too much for families dealing with severe illness?

View more: Texas Medical Center increases parking fees. How families in need can find help

Pierce Brosnan, Helena Bonham Carter & Gabriel Byrne Join Polly Steele’s ‘Four Letters Of Love’; Cornerstone To Launch Film At EFM

Pierce Brosnan, Helena Bonham Carter & Gabriel Byrne Getty Images Pierce Brosnan, Helena Bonham Carter and Gabriel Byrne are set to co-star in Polly Steele’s upcoming drama Four Letters Of Love as the parents of fated lovers played by up-and-coming actors Fionn O’Shea and Ann Skelly. Cornerstone, which is ...

View more: Pierce Brosnan, Helena Bonham Carter & Gabriel Byrne Join Polly Steele’s ‘Four Letters Of Love’; Cornerstone To Launch Film At EFM

Coming Up: Gov. Abbott Briefing on Severe Weather Conditions Impacting Texas

A live press conference will appear in the video player above. Governor Greg Abbott will hold a press conference with state officials Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 10:30 a.m. from the State Operations Center in Austin on the state’s response to severe winter weather conditions impacting Texas this week. Winter ...

View more: Coming Up: Gov. Abbott Briefing on Severe Weather Conditions Impacting Texas

Here's When You Can Watch A Man Called Otto At Home

Niko Tavernise/Sony Pictures Based on the 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove,” “A Man Called Otto” is a 2023 film that tells a touching story of a grumpy, grieving old man whose heart is warmed by his kind neighbors. Starring Tom Hanks in the titular role, the movie was ...

View more: Here's When You Can Watch A Man Called Otto At Home

Tupac Shakur’s stepfather reflects on freedom after 35 years behind bars

Mutulu Shakur, who has an advanced form of cancer, is making up for lost time with his family after the Black liberation activist was released on parole from a 60-year  prison sentence in December. “​​I’m so happy to be free,” Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s stepfather, told NBC News. “I fought hard ...

View more: Tupac Shakur’s stepfather reflects on freedom after 35 years behind bars

Father and son ‘battered mother’s lover to death after finding him hiding in wardrobe’

Inside incredible $9billion ‘aviation megacity’ for 75million passengers a year with gardens, leisure venues and hotels

I spent a day in the life of Britain’s richest gypsy Alfie Best… here’s what baffled me about his high flying lifestyle

I was suicidal after waking up in hotel with stranger – police didn’t believe I’d been assaulted so I crowdfunded trial

Man, 50, found guilty of stabbing girlfriend to death hours before fatally knifing man

Shocking moment man smashes digger into the home of his brother’s ex – causing £28,000 worth of damage

Manhattan DA presenting evidence to grand jury about Trump’s role in Stormy Daniels’ hush money payments

‘Long Division’ Series Adaptation In The Works From Trevor Noah’s Day Zero Productions

Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Pathaan’ Makes Box Office History For Bollywood & India Around The Globe – Opening Weekend Records List

Trevor Noah’s Day Zero Productions Hires Chloe Ifshin & Eugene Han As Devon Quinn & Ashley Dizon Exit

Major update to school strikes as teachers set to walk out of class TOMORROW

My dad went missing 10 years ago… then homeless stranger said a ‘butcher & a pig farm’ held the key to his disappearance

OTHER NEWS