RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Lunar New Year celebration is an annual tradition that is centered on cheer and culture, but celebration was filled with heartbreak and loss following a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, where 65% of the residents identify as Asian American.
"This attack is particularly hard for many in our community, because of the timing of the shooting, being on Lunar New Year. So, what was supposed to be a day of joy, really turned into a day of mourning," said Jimmy Patel-Nguyen who represents the non-profit, North Carolina Asian Americans Together.
Ten people were killed in Saturday's attack and another 10 were injured. Patel-Nguyen said while the motive is unclear the attack was still another violent act against Asian Americans.
"The organization Stop AAPI Hate started collecting reports of instances or incidents against Asian Americans and between March 2020 to March 2022, they reported over 11,500 incidents against Asian Americans," explained Patel-Nguyen. "Our community is already living with a heightened concern for our safety."
He said the Asian American community is still processing the violence that was unleashed in Atlanta in March 2021, where a gunman went on a shooting rampage killing eight people at three area spas.
"Our community was really rocked by the Atlanta spa mass shooting, you know, so the attack in Monterey Park is definitely, you know, a source of anxiety and concern for folks in our community," Patel-Nguyen said.
These are concerns and fears that have increased since the start of the pandemic. A 2022 Pew Research Center Study found 63% of Asian Adults surveyed said violence against Asian Americans has increased. Another 36 % of those polled said they worry they might be threatened or attacked.
"One thing that everybody can do is just check on their friends and their loved ones to take care of themselves, which is really important during times of high stress and anxiety," said Patel-Nguyen.
The Monterey Park attack comes just days after the Biden-Harris administration released its nation strategy to Advance Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian American, Nation Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities.