Two recent mass shootings in California, each leaving multiple Asian American victims dead, have police in a Massachusetts city stepping up patrols.
Some Asian-owned businesses in Salem are on high-alert Tuesday, with police increasing their presence following the tragedies.
"It is scary, you know, it's terrible," Salem business owner Ken Sokkheng Chheng said. "We never know, you know, sometimes it happens."
In Monterey Park, a city in Los Angeles County, 11 people were killed in a Saturday night shooting at a dance hall during a Lunar New Year celebration. The alleged shooter, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said. Law enforcement sources say the evidence gathered so far suggests a personal motive rather than terrorism or a hate crime.
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Just two days later, in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, seven people were killed and one was injured Monday in what investigators say appears to be a case of workplace violence. All of the victims are described as being Asian or Hispanic.
After the shootings across the country, police officials in Salem began ramping up patrols and paying extra close attention to Asian-owned and Asian-inspired businesses. While there is no indication of risk, police hope the increased presence puts minds at ease.
"Just spending a little extra time outside these premises. Maybe waving, letting people know that we're out there," Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller said.
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The Salem Police Department says there were two reported hate crimes in Salem in 2022; neither involving Asian victims; none have been reported in the city so far this year.
Nationally, however, hate crime rates have increased in recent years. Data published last year by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found an 11% overall increase in suspected hate crimes reported to police, and a 339% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.
Officials with the Salem Police Department expect the change in patrols to last about a week.