HOUSTON — Houston hosted a Lunar New Year celebration at Discovery Green on Sunday.
Close to 1,000 people showed up for the performances. Those in attendance said they weren't going to let fear stop them from taking part in a time that's supposed to be marked by happiness.
A gunman killed 10 people at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance studio late Saturday amid Lunar New Year celebrations in the predominantly Asian-American community of Monterey Park. The suspected gunman, later identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, likely tried and failed to target a second dance hall, authorities said. The search for Tran ended when authorities found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after people thwarted his attempt at a second shooting.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said his thoughts were with the California community and asked for prayers for the victims and their loved ones. He also asked the Houston Police Department to increase protection at events across the city.
Security was top-of-mind in the wake of the deadly shooting on the West Coast. Attendees said the tragedy was weighing heavy on their hearts.
The celebration went on as planned but a moment of silence held for the victims of the shooting proved to be a sobering reality check for those in the crowd.
“Our hearts are with the victims in that in that shooting and their families,” Discovery Green marketing director Frankie Ortega said.
The tradition of Lunar New Year is meant to be a new beginning.
“It's throwing away last year and all the old things and all the troubles and looking to a fresh new year -- new fortunes, new prosperity,” performer Chi Ly Hannarea said.
Families said they had concerns, but wouldn't let what happened in California keep them from taking part in the celebration.
“I'm confident we're gonna we're gonna be OK," Sandra Reyna-Rubina said.
The celebration at Discovery Green highlighted the multiple Asian cultures that observe the lunar calendar. People from all backgrounds celebrated together and prayed for the victims of the tragedy during what should have been a time of celebration.
“Some people think Chinese New Year -- is Chinese. But it's a great opportunity for them to see that the Lunar Festival is celebrated around the world in many, many different countries," Hannarea said.
Turner's full statement
“My thoughts are with Monterey Park, California, as our nation experienced another mass shooting.
"Please pray for the shooting victims and their loved ones.
"Tragically, this event took place at a #LunarNewYear’s event. I have asked Houston police to increase protection at the various Lunar New Years events to keep everyone safe.
"If you see anything suspicious or know of anything that may pose a risk to public safety, please alert law enforcement.”