How two elderly Asian men became mass shooters

Two of the three suspects in California’s latest mass shootings were older Asian men who targeted other Asians during a time of celebration. Now some mental health experts are trying to figure out if there’s a correlation. 

Mental health professionals say there are usually signs and triggers that can lead anyone to take the lives of innocent people.  

On Wednesday night, Dozens of people gathered in front of the Mission Church at Santa Clara University to pray for the mass shooting victims and to pray for healing.

"I am tired God. I’m tired of the unwillingness to see this as an important issue. I’m tired of those in power who work to prevent any real change," said Annie Hayes, Jesuit School of Theology Student

"I didn’t realize this has impacted me on a deep level. I wasn’t until I heard the words of the people here that I actually felt something. I was like ‘wow, I needed to feel that," said Anh Nguyen, a Santa Clara University Graduate Student. 

Dr. Thu Quach from Asian Health Services in Oakland says the recent rise of hate crimes in the U.S. against Asians during the pandemic, has only added to the stress many people in the community were already feeling. 

"Many Asian Americans, particularly immigrants, they have come from a country where there’s been so much violence, whether it’s war or other types of persecution. So this experience of recent events in the last few days, right around lunar new year, has been triggering and re-traumatizing for so many in our community," said Dr. Quach. 

The shooting suspects in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park were both Asian men in their 60s and 70s but Dr. Thomas Plante, a Psychology professor at Santa Clara University, says it’s rare for seniors of any background to commit these types of acts. 

"Perhaps it speaks to the fact that anybody is capable of using a firearm in their anger, in their aggression, in their impulse control troubles. It speaks to the fact that no one is immune." 

Dr. Plante also says most people with mentally illness do not cause mass shootings and mental health issues shouldn’t be stigmatized. After the vigil, two Psychology students talked about the shootings, and what they’d like to see happen next.  

SEE ALSO: Half Moon Bay shooting suspect charged with 7 counts of murder

"I dream of mental health that is communal and that isn’t just for individuals. That is collaborative and isn’t just like, I’m the expert on who you are," said Ana Mahomar, a Santa Clara University Counseling student.  

"I feel angry. I feel compelled to do something. I don’t know what that something is, but I want to do something," Nguyen said.   

Dr. Quach says getting the Asian community to talk more about how they feel is essential and also getting them more access to mental health care.