ALHAMBRA, Calif. (RNS) — The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, a global humanitarian organization, has mobilized relief efforts in a range of emergency and disaster events, including the 2000 Singapore Airlines crash that killed more than 80 people and the 2005 Glendale train crash that left 11 people dead.But it had never, until now, responded to the scene of a mass shooting.
That changed when 72-year-old Huu Can Tran is suspected of opening fire and killing 11 people — all in their 50s, 60s, and 70s — at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, a city in Los Angeles County’s San Gabriel Valley regarded as America’s first “suburban Chinatown.” Residents in the area were gearing up for the beginning of Lunar New Year festivities.
Just hours after the Saturday night shooting, Tzu Chi volunteers received a text message from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, alerting them that some of the victims were Taiwanese Americans. They also got word that state officials were in need of translation services at a senior facility turned crisis response center.
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By early Sunday morning, Tzu Chi deployed a group of volunteers to the center to relay information in Mandarin and Cantonese to victims’ families. Their assistance was also sought by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to translate personal information, understand …