People gather at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting over the weekend at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Eleven people are dead and nine remain injured after a weekend shooting during Lunar New Year celebrations in California.
Attendees at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park were celebrating the holiday Saturday night when the attack took place.
As investigators continue to look into what caused the shooter to go on a rampage, family members of those who died are sharing remembrances of their loved ones. Here’s what we know so far:
Mymy Nhan, 65
In a statement on Twitter, Nhan’s family wrote: “We are starting the Lunar New Year broken. We never imagined her life would end so suddenly.”
“She spent so many years going to the dance studio in Monterey Park on weekends,” the family continued. “It’s what she loved to do. But unfairly, Saturday was her last dance.”
Tiffany Liou, whose husband is Nhan’s nephew, said Nhan “was the first person shot and killed” during the mass shooting at Star Ballroom Dance Studio. Liou posted a video on Twitter of Nhan dancing, saying that’s how she hoped “Aunt Mymy” would be remembered.
Nhan’s niece, Fonda Quan, told ABC News that her aunt was shot as she tried to drive her car out of the dance studio’s parking lot.
“When I think of her, I think, I hope the takeaway for everyone is: just be kind. Care for people. You don’t know what their backstory is. Sometimes a smile, sometimes kind words, can make their day,” Quan said. “That’s how she lived her life.”
A GoFundMe page set up by Quan described Nhan as “kind beyond words. She was a caretaker to all people around her. She was a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend. She was our biggest cheerleader.”
Xiujuan Yu, 57
Yu’s niece, Kathleen Fong, wrote on a GoFundMe page for the family: “What was meant to be a night out celebrating the Lunar New Year with friends ended up being a devastating and life-changing event for my family.”
Yu and her family immigrated to the U.S. from China in the early 2010s, Fong said. Yu is survived by her husband and three children, two of whom are studying sports medicine and kinesiology in the California State University system.
Fong described her aunt and uncle as having worked “tirelessly” to provide for their children and pay for their education as the couple worked to “craft a new future for their little family” in the U.S.
“My aunt was in the middle of crafting that future with her husband and children, and now to have that journey suddenly interrupted is heartbreaking,” Fong wrote. “She will never be able to witness what she dreamed of for all these years.”
Hongying Jian, 62
One of Jian’s neighbors, Serena Liu, told the Los Angeles Times that Jian was known as “Nancy” and liked to play volleyball, sing, play piano and go dancing.
“She’s a very active person,” Liu told the newspaper. “She used to say she can make friends with anyone if she wants. She’s a very nice, cute, kind person.”
Liu said Jian was from the Sichuan province of China and that she had planned to return to visit her mother but couldn’t due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. She is survived by her husband.
Yu Lun Kao, 72
Kao’s dance partner, identified as Shally, told FOX 11 Los Angeles reporter Christina Pascucci that she first thought the gunshots were fireworks to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Shally said after Kao was shot he stopped responding to her and she noticed blood on her hands.
“I thought I was the one who was shot,” Shally said. “I was yelling, yelling, yelling like crazy.”
A GoFundMe set up by Shally’s husband, Francois, said Kao was known in the dance community as “Mr. Nice” because of his willingness to welcome and teach newcomers.
Francois said the couple lost a “kindhearted friend” and said Kao took a bullet to save Shally, his dance partner of 15 years.
Kao’s brother told the Los Angeles Times that he and Kao immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan about 20 years ago and that Kao was unmarried and had no children.
Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68
In a statement posted to Twitter, Alvero’s family members said they’ve become “unwilling members of a community who has to mourn the loss of our loved ones due to gun violence.”
“We are left frustrated, stuck with this vicious cycle,” they added.
Alvero was remembered as a “loving father, a dedicated son and brother, a grandfather who loved his three granddaughters fiercely, an uncle who loved his nieces and nephews like his own.”
A devout Catholic who loved ballroom dancing, Alvero loved hearing about other people’s lives and sharing stories about his own life with “so much gusto and enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh along with him,” his family said.
“We hope that he danced to his heart’s content until the very end and hope that he is now dancing in heaven,” they said.
Alvero’s son, Val Anthony Alvero, told CNN that his father was a hospitality worker who planned to retire in a year and hoped to return to his native Philippines.
Wen Tau Yu, 64
Yu’s son, Szu Fa Yu, told the New York Times that his father was retired but that he had just begun going to school to study for a second career as a pharmacist.
“I really admire him for that,” Yu said. “His books and notes are still lying around on the desk,” he added.
Wen Tau Yu, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, had celebrated the Lunar New Year with his family before going out with friends, his son said. Yu’s family reported him missing after hearing that he did not show up for lunch with friends the next day.
Ming Wei Ma, 72
Ming Wei Ma was the beloved owner of Star Ballroom Dance Studio, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Courtney Thong on behalf of Ma’s daughter, Mary.
Ma “built a community that dearly loved and respected him for his kindness and liveliness,” Thong wrote.
In a 2016 news story about the dance hall, Ma told the Pasadena Star-News that he wanted to create a space for multiple cultures to come together and dance.
“I want to provide an active place for the Asian community of Monterey Park to help prolong their life and improve their health,” he said. “Having a place where people from all over the world can come together and communicate through dance is how I can help.”
Lauren Woods, who taught at the studio, said in a post on Facebook that Ma would often kiss her cheek and even pick her up sometimes.
“It was always so loving when he would do this. He was so adorable to me and I could tell he was the heart of Star Ballroom,” Woods said. “So many dancers, teachers and organizers were connected with Ma and I personally will miss him dearly.”
In addition to daughter Mary, Ma was also father to son Ray, according to the GoFundMe page.
Diana Man Ling Tom, 70
In a statement, Tom’s family condemned the shooting as a “senseless act of violence that has uprooted the lives of all the victims, their families and the entire API community at large. We honor and support all of those affected,” the family said on a GoFundMe page.
Tom was described as a hard-working wife, mother and grandmother with a love for dance. She was celebrating the Lunar New Year by dancing with friends.
“To those who knew her, she was someone who always went out of her way to give to others,” her family said.
Tom died at LAC + USC Medical Center, where she was treated after being shot.
Muoi Dai Ung, 67
Ung’s family said she was a refugee from Vietnam who loved to dance and embraced the community she discovered in Monterey Park, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Monterey Park City Councilmember Thomas Wong read the family’s statement aloud at a public vigil Tuesday night.
“My aunt loved to dance. She also loved to eat and gamble. Sometimes, I hear, she even tried to do all three at the same time,” her family said. “Much like our community, she was complicated, messy, easy to love and sometimes hard to understand from the outside.”
It took the Chinese-Vietnamese refugee more than 30 years before she could immigrate to the U.S. and reunite with family members – including her own daughter – who had fled Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s, her family said.
“Tonight is a moment of grief and mourning, but let’s also make sure that this is a catalyst for change,” Ung’s family said. “Let’s come together stronger, as a family and community. Let’s make sure that beyond this moment we continue to dance and create spaces for joy.”
Two other victims – Lilian Li, 63, and Chia Ling Yau, 76 – were also killed in the shooting. We will update as more information becomes available.