Lost in the aftermath of the Monterey Park, California, ballroom dance hall shooting that left 11 people dead is an alarming fact: It took five hours for authorities to alert the public that the gunman was on the loose Saturday night.

Even after the 72-year-old shooter brought a submachine gun-style weapon into another nearby dance hall about a half-hour later, a potential attack thwarted by a hero who grabbed the weapon and chased the man away, it would be hours more before police held a news conference to announce the suspect was still at large.

Experts say the weekend mass shooting that sent fear through Los Angeles-area Asian American communities highlights the lack of national standards for notifying the public, and the need for an aggressive alert system — similar to Amber alerts — that would immediately set off alarms on cellphones in surrounding areas and post warnings on highway signs.

“Five hours is kind of ridiculous,” said Chris Grollnek, an expert on active-shooter tactics and a retired police officer and SWAT team member. “This is going to be a really good case study. Why five hours?”

Brian Higgins, a former SWAT team commander and police chief in Bergen County, New Jersey, said an alert should have gone out right away, and a half hour between the two incidents was more than enough time to do so.

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