First published in the Jan. 28 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
As millions were mourning the victims of the Monterey Park shooting that left 11 people dead and nine injured during a Lunar New Year Eve celebration on Jan. 21, Glendale officials also offered their condolences to the families of the victims of the tragedy.
Discussion during Tuesday’s City Council meeting reflected the disbelief and pain felt across the region, while also joining the ongoing talks of a solution to the nation’s deadly mass shooting epidemic through gun legislation, mental health services, gun buy-back programs and more. There have been 42 mass shootings since the beginning of 2023, according to Gun Violence Archive.
On Monday, another mass shooting in Half Moon Bay amplified the already bleak and saddening reality of continual gun violence, within the state and throughout the country. The Half Moon Bay incident ended with a death toll of seven victims.
Councilman Daniel Brotman started off the condolences and comments regarding the recent incidents.
“My heart goes out to all of the families and friends of people that were killed and injured. I can’t conceive what that is like, to be facing that,” Brotman said.
“There’s obviously a sickness in this country. I don’t have a solution, but I wanted to acknowledge [the tragedies],” he said.
Councilwoman Elen Asatryan followed Brotman’s comments and mentioned to City Manager Roubik Golanian that it might be “worthwhile” to launch a continuous campaign for Glendale community members about mental health services available to them.
“I want to relay my own heavy heart and thoughts to those who are impacted [by the recent mass shootings]. Regardless of where acts of violence occur, it rocks all of us and I hope that as we move forward, we set policies and provide resources for mental health support that is much needed,” Asatryan said.
“I want to thank our police and fire chiefs for reaching out to Monterey Park in lending support and helping wherever they can,” she said.
Following the Monterey Park shooting, Glendale Fire Department and other neighboring fire departments responded to help treat victims. GFD dispatched one ambulance to the scene, according to Community Relations Coordinator Solene Manoukian.
Glendale and neighboring agencies’ response to assist Monterey Park is a part of an “automatic aid” agreement, which includes several surrounding agencies in the Foothill communities.
The automatic aid agreement is known as “Unified Response,” which is intended to provide seamless coverage and the closest appropriate resource to an incident, regardless of jurisdiction. There are 12 cities and 43 fire stations as part of the aid agreement.
Councilwoman Paula Devine joined her colleagues in sending “condolences to the families of the victims in the Monterey Park incident. It’s tragic. As councilmember Brotman was trying to say, there is too much anger and hatred in our world these days,” she said.
“If you know someone who is very angry… try to do something about it. Try to get him or her help and make something positive come out of the situation. I agree that the mental health aspect of this is very important,” Devine added.
Devine said she hopes that the tragic incidents spark more effective conversations about gun legislation: “I don’t know how many times this has to happen before that happens… I know California has strong laws but, perhaps, they could be stronger.”
Councilman Ara Najarian said he hopes that Glendale City Staff can take a more “proactive approach” to the city’s mental health and welfare service response for residents.
Najarian, speaking directly to Golanian and Police Chief Manuel Cid, suggested making city staff more aware of mental health instability and “warning signs,” and intervening whenever possible through fire, police or other departments in the city.
“Maybe we can make more of an effort toward welfare checks, just so we can say that we’ve done everything we can do as a city to keep this thing in check… there’s no one solution to this [and] if there had been an intervention at an earlier stage, then maybe a tragedy could’ve been prevented,” Najarian said.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay,” he said.
Mayor Ardy Kassakhian began his comments by echoing condolences to the families of the victims of both incidents and residents in both communities who were affected by the shootings.
Kassakhian reflected on similar tragedies in the past and his perspective on how issues revolving around mass shootings are not being directly addressed.
“I’d like to remember a time in this country when we were faced with something as tragic as something we’ve faced in the last few days, it would be an opportunity for people to come together and to try and find a common solution… It seems, nowadays, people instead are entrenched in their partisan arguments attacking the other side,” he said.
“It’s not just about sensible gun laws and legislation and universal background checks. It’s also about the mental health aspect of it and the decades of neglect. You’re seeing the effects of neglect in proper mental health institutions on the streets of every community, every day,” Kassakhian continued.
“We are with each and every community in spirit that has to endure and survive through a tragedy like this — the scars of it are long enduring.”
Kassakhian mentioned Glendale’s gun buy-back program in the past and asked the city manager to work with Glendale Police Department staff to hold another event. The request to bring the buy-back program back was seconded by Asatryan.
Glendale’s most recent gun buy-back event, or the “Anonymous Gun Buy Back” event, was hosted by the police department in 2018. The goal of the event was to reduce the availability of unwanted firearms in the community and to provide the opportunity for a safe, anonymous disposal of guns, according to a city press statement.
Weapons collected at the 2018 event were destroyed “in compliance with state law requirements,” according to the statement.
Participants of the buy-back program received $100 Target gift cards for each handgun, shotgun or rifle and $200 Target gift cards for participants who relinquished state-classified assault weapons.
“It’s not the only solution but for anyone who has a gun at home and is no longer in need of it or doesn’t think they need it in light of this tragedy — let’s see what we can do,” he said.