Among the 11 people who died when a gunman opened fire during a Lunar New Year celebration at a Los Angeles-area ballroom popular with Asian-Americans was the beloved aunt of one family, a retired man that he decided to return to the school and to the always smiling assistant of the place. manager.
For many, a passion for dance and a desire to meet up with friends drew them to the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Saturday night for what was to be a light-hearted celebration.
“I recognize the faces of these people who have built friendships, connections and a community around their passion: dancing,” said Kristina Hayes, who has organized ballroom tango events. “I’m still in shock.”
After the attack, the gunman went to another nearby dance hall, but was disarmed before anyone was shot. He fled, and on Sunday he shot himself.
As of Tuesday, a GoFundMe organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California had raised more than $700,000 for the families of the victims.
Here are profiles of some of the 11 people killed:
MING WEI MA
Ming Wei Ma, 72, was the manager of the Star Ballroom and also a talented dancer. Those who know him described him as someone who always smiled, helped and made people feel welcome.
“He was a genuine and special person that everyone loved,” Walter Calderón, a dance instructor who hosted events there, told The Associated Press.
Calderón said that while Ma didn’t speak much English, she conveyed a lot with her facial expressions.
Siu Fong told the AP that he sometimes led karaoke nights for seniors there, where Ma always greeted everyone. She “went into my session, she talked to the singers and greeted them”.
my my nhan
Mymy Nhan, 65, was a regular at Star Ballroom. She had been the primary caretaker for her mother, who recently died, and was looking forward to the ballroom’s Lunar New Year celebrations as a way to “start the year over,” her niece Fonda Quan said.
“It’s comforting to know that you enjoyed your last dance, even though it was your last dance,” she continued.
Tiffany Liou, a reporter for television station WFAA in Dallas, wrote for the station’s website that for Nhan, her husband’s aunt, “her family was her passion.” Liou said Nhan had no children but that she “loved her nieces and nephews as if they were her own.”
“He was kind to all strangers. Her warm smile was contagious. She was the biggest cheerleader ever,” Liou wrote.
Nhan, of Chinese descent, grew up in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1985, Liou wrote.
Valentino Alvero, 68, was remembered as a dedicated family man who loved ballroom dancing and was “the life of any party,” his family said in a statement.
Alvero was “a loving father, a devoted son and brother, a grandfather who fiercely loved his three granddaughters, an uncle who loved his nieces and nephews as his own,” his family said in a statement.
“He loved people and hearing about their lives and in return shared his own stories with such enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh with him,” the family said.
The statement said that Alvero, a devout Catholic, loved ballroom dancing.
“We hope she danced her best to the end and we hope she is dancing in heaven now,” the family said.
WEN TAU YU
Wen Tau Yu, 64, was retired but had recently returned to school to study pharmacy, his son said.
“He was 64 years old and retired, but he was exploring his second career,” Szu Fa Yu told The New York Times. “I really admire him for that.”
Wen Tau Yu had immigrated to the US from Taiwan, where he was a manager at an agricultural company, his son said.
On Saturday, the family had gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year before her father went out to celebrate with friends. When friends of his father’s said that he had never shown up for lunch the next day, the family informed the police that he was not there.
Szu Fa Yu said she did not know her father was a dancer and the family was not sure if he was killed inside the ballroom or while passing by.
YU LUN KAO
Yu Lun Kao, 72, was a long-time member of the dance community in Monterey Park, known to practice for hours.
“All day, that’s how much I loved dancing,” Alex Satrin, an instructor who teaches at Star Ballroom, told The New York Times.
Satrin said that Kao, who also called himself Andy, had participated in his group classes and also frequently practiced together with the group.
Kao’s brother, Alan Kao, told the newspaper that his brother worked in the construction business after coming to California from Taiwan two decades ago.
MUOI DAI UNG
Muoi Dai Ung, 67, who came to the United States from Vietnam more than a decade ago to be with relatives who fled the country in the 1970s and 1980s, was an outgoing person who loved to dance, her family said. .
Her niece, Julyy Phun, told the Washington Post that her aunt came to the US hoping to build a life here “different from the sorrows she had experienced.”
On Saturday, Ung, who worked various jobs, including as a seamstress, had gone to the Star Ballroom to celebrate Lunar New Year with her best friend.
A statement from Ung’s family described her as “complicated, messy, easy to love, and sometimes hard to understand from the outside.”
This month, Ung’s daughter was visiting her from abroad. “He came to see her mother and now he has to bury her,” Phun said.
Diana Tom, 70, was a “working mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance,” her family said in a statement provided to The Associated Press.
Her family said that she went to the ballroom to celebrate the Lunar New Year by dancing with her friends.
“To those who knew her, she was someone who always went out of her way to help others,” her family said.
Hongying Jian, 62, known as Nancy Liu, and her husband Jeff were regulars at the Star Ballroom, their daughter said.
“They know everybody,” Juno Blees told The New York Times.
The couple immigrated from China more than 25 years ago and did everything together, Blees said. They liked to socialize in the ballroom because the clientele was around their age and many were also Asian immigrants.
A neighbor, Serena Liu, described Nancy Liu as “a very nice, cute and kind person” who liked to sing, play the piano and go out dancing.
“She used to say that she can be friends with anyone if she wants to,” Liu told the Los Angeles Times.
On Saturday night, Jeff Liu was near the entrance when he saw the gunman break in and open fire. He saw his wife collapse, Blees said.
They separated and he never saw her again.
Jeff Liu’s shoulder was grazed by two bullets. He was released from the hospital on Sunday.
CHIA LING YAU
Chia Ling Yau, 76, had a passion for music, dance and travel, her family said in a statement, the Washington Post reported.
Yau’s family said he was a loving father, uncle, brother and friend, a fun-loving and happy person. His family said he was the kind of friend who was generous with his time, and with his children “he was generous with words of love and affirmation.”
Stangle contributed to this report from Dallas. Also contributing to this report were reporters Terry Tang and Amy Taxin in Monterey Park, California, and researchers Jennifer Farrar and Rhonda Shafner in New York.