Monterey Park massacre puts new LA County sheriff on global stage

Less than two months after he was sworn into office, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna faced baptism by fire in the Monterey Park shooting that claimed 11 lives and catapulted him onto a worldwide stage.

Luna confronted his first test as head of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department in handling the county’s largest mass shooting during one of the region’s most celebrated holidays. He emerged with mixed reviews from experts praising him for his show of competence and compassion at the podium in media briefings, but concerned over the five-hour delay in alerting the public that a gunman was on the loose.

After serving as police chief in Long Beach for seven years, Luna promised a new era of accountability and collaboration when he easily unseated embattled ex-Sheriff Alex Villanueva in November.

Luna’s first crisis behind the five-star badge unfolded about 10:30 p.m. Saturday at a Monterey Park ballroom, where 11 were slain by a gunman who fatally shot himself Sunday at a Torrance strip mall. Through most of the ordeal, Luna was the face of law enforcement, the pull-together guy for federal, state and local authorities.

As far as Luna’s tactical performance, experts interviewed by the Southern California News Group said they didn’t know the inner workings of the investigation, only that the suspected culprit was quickly identified, cornered and no longer a threat. Some said Luna had not been at the Sheriff’s Department long enough to put his fingerprints on the operation.

At the podium, Luna verbally stumbled at times during news conferences and appeared less than polished, often reading from notes. But experts interviewed by SCNG said Luna appeared thoughtful and in command.

“Better competent than slick,” said Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. “His demeanor showed concern but not panic.”

Pitney said the public would rather …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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