A night of dancing and celebration in a California dance studio turned tragic when a gunman burst into the studio and started shooting.
Ten people were pronounced dead after Huu Can Tran, a 72-year-old Asian man, opened fire late Saturday inside Star Ballroom Dance studio, where dozens of revelers had gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Another 10 people were wounded in the violence, including one person who died days later, bringing the devastating death toll to 11.
From there, Tran traveled to the Lai Lai Ballroom in the nearby city of Alhambra, where he was disarmed before he could harm any more people.
Police said he shot and killed himself the following day.
On Tuesday, authorities identified everyone who had been killed in the violent ballroom attack. The female victims were named as Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hong Jian, 62; Lilian Li, 63; My Nhan, 65; Muoi Ung, 67; and Diana Tom, 70. The male victims were identified as Wen Yu, 64; Valentino Alvero, 68; Ming Ma, 72; Yu Kao, 72; and Chia Yau, 76.
Here’s what we know so far about them:
A studio co-owner and beloved instructor, Ma was the “heart” of Star Ballroom Dance Studio, recalled Lauren Woods, another instructor at the facility in Monterey Park. The last time she saw him was hours before the shooting, when Ma helped her find a parking space amid the crowded Lunar New Year celebrations.
His friend, Eric Chen, told CBS Los Angeles that’s just the type of person Ma was — always looking out for others and putting people first. He said Chen died protecting the people at the party and that he rushed the gunman when the shooting began.
“Heartbreaking and it’s unthinkable that it would happen,” said Chen.
Woods said while English was not Ma’s first language, he always managed to radiate warmth and communicate his love and passion to everyone around him.
“His English was not great, but he’d always say, ‘My teacher! My teacher!’ Always kiss my cheeks and say ‘Love You! Love you!’ Full of hugs and physically pick me up sometimes,” Woods wrote in a Facebook post. “It was always so loving when he would do this.”
Tom was remembered by her family as a “hard-working mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance.”
She was one of more than a dozen people shot during the party, where she planned to ring in the Lunar New Year by dancing with friends. Tom was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but was later pronounced dead. .
“On behalf of Diana Tom, we, her family, condemn this senseless act of violence that has uprooted the lives of all the victims, their families and the entire API community at large,” her family said in a statement to ABC News.
“We honor and support all of those affected,” they continued. “To those who knew her, she was someone who always went out of her way to give to others.”
Nhan, known by loved ones as MyMy, regularly attended weekend classes at the Star Ballroom Dance studio for more than 10 years.
“It’s what she loved to do,” her family said in a statement to ABC 7 News. “But unfairly, Saturday was her last dance.”
Nhan was the first person shot and killed in the weekend carnage, according to Tiffany Liou, a reporter who is married to Nhan’s nephew. Witnesses said she was in her car in the parking lot outside the studio at the time.
“We are starting the Lunar New Year broken,” her family said.
“We never imagined her life would end so suddenly,” they continued. “If you saw her, you knew her warm smile and kindness was contagious. She was a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend. Mymy was our biggest cheerleader.”
She immigrated from Vietnam in the 1980s and eventually landed in San Gabriel Valley, living in the community of Rosemead.
Valentino was a “loving father, dedicated son and brother, a grandfather who loved his three granddaughters fiercely” and “an uncle who loved his nieces and nephews like his own,” according to a statement posted by his great-niece, Karmel Kwan, on Twitter.
“He loved people and hearing about their lives and in return, he shared his own stories with so much gusto and enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh along with him,” she continued. “He loved ballroom dancing, he loved his community and was the life of any party.”
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office on Monday confirmed he was among those killed in the mass shooting.
“Overnight, we became unwilling members of a community who has to mourn the loss of our loved ones due to gun violence,” family said. “We are left frustrated, stuck with this vicious cycle.”
Yu was the youngest victim killed in the massacre in Monterey Park. In a GoFundMe page dedicate to raising funeral funds, her family said they endured “days of uncertainty, anxiety, and waiting in worry” before authorities confirmed Yu was among the dead.
“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,” her niece Kathleen Fong wrote. “Personally, this still doesn’t feel real. It happened all too quickly — we never even got a chance to properly say goodbye.”
Yu leaves behind three children, including twins who are currently students at schools in the California State University system. She immigrated to the United States from China in the early 2010s.
“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 added. “She will never be able to witness what she dreamed of for all these years.”
Liu, 63, was ringing in the Lunar New Year with her 62-year-old husband when a gunman opened fire onto the dance floor. Their daughter, Juno Blees, told the New York Times she quickly learned her father had suffered a gunshot wound that left him in critical condition — but she had to wait hours before learning her mother was fatally shot while enjoying one of her favorite pastimes.
Blees said her parents immigrated from China more than two decades ago.
The Los Angeles County Coroner on Monday confirmed Li was among those fatally shot amid the carnage at Star Ballroom Dance Studio over the weekend. She was 63.
With News Wire Services