11 people have been identified in the horrific Monterey Park mass shooting that took place amid Lunar New Year celebrations.
Mai Nan, 65, Lilian Li, 63, Jiuzuan Yu, 57, Muoi Wong, 67, Hong Jian, 62, Diana Tom, 70, Yu Kao, 72, Chia Yau, 76, Valentino Alvero, 68, Wen Yu, 64, and Ming Ma, 72, were named as the victims of Saturday night’s shooting by gunman Hu Can Tran.
At 10.22pm on Saturday, Tran opened fire at the Star Dance Studio with his illegal semi-automatic pistol. He hit 20 people aged 52 to 72.
The motive for the shooting is unclear, but Tran’s ex-wife confirmed that he used to teach lessons at the studio and was quick to anger. Authorities are investigating whether Tran was looking for his ex-wife when he committed the massacre.
Ming Wei Ma, 72, left, owned the ballroom studio. Marr’s friends revealed that he was the first to run towards the gunman when he opened fire
Valentino Alvero (left), a father, was also identified as one of the victims of the shooting. Diana Tom, 70, (right) was critically injured in the shooting and later died in hospital on Sunday
Tran fired 42 rounds from his 9mm semiautomatic assault weapon and then walked into another nearby dance hall where an employee wrestled the gun away from him.
The gunman later shot himself in the white van he used to flee the scene during the police standoff on Sunday.
Tributes poured in online for the victims as their families set up a GoFundMe for support
Ming Wei Ma, 72, owned the ballroom studio. Ma’s friends revealed that she was the first to run towards the gunman when he opened fire.
The mother’s friend, Eric Chen, told CBS: ‘According to the chat, she was the first to chase the shooter. He is just caring, and other first, people first kind of person.
‘It’s heartbreaking and unimaginable that this would happen.’
Trainer Lorraine Woods added: ‘He was absolutely adorable to me and I could tell he was the heart of the Star Ballroom.
‘Many dancers, teachers and organizers were associated with mum and I will personally miss her dearly.’
Mother is survived by two children, Ray and Mary.
Mimi Nunn, 65, was one of 11 people killed in the massacre
Ming Wei Ma, right, was one of eleven people killed in the horrific massacre at Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Saturday night.
Xiujuan Yu, 57, was confirmed dead by authorities after his family anxiously waited to hear from him.
‘What was meant to be a night out to celebrate the Lunar New Year with friends turned into a devastating and life-changing event for my family,’ her niece wrote on a GoFundMe page that has raised nearly $11,000.
‘After days of waiting in uncertainty, anxiety and worry, we got the news that my aunt was among those killed in the incident.’
Yu was an immigrant from China with big dreams. She is survived by her husband and three children.
‘My aunt was in the middle of building that future with her husband and children, and to have that journey suddenly interrupted is heartbreaking,’ her niece wrote. ‘He will never see what he has dreamed of for so many years.’
A man lights a candle at a makeshift memorial in front of Star Dance Studios in Monterey Park, California, on Monday.
A father, Valentino Alvero, has also been identified as a victim of the shooting.
Valentino Alvero was described as a loving father who loved ballroom dancing
His family described him as ‘a loving father, a devoted son and brother, a grandfather who loved his three granddaughters dearly, an uncle who loved his nieces and nephews as his own’.
‘He loved people and listened to their lives and in return, he shared his own stories with such enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh with him,’ the family said.
The statement said Alvero loved ballroom dancing, was the ‘life of any party’ and was a devout Catholic. The family asked all priests and Catholics to pray for him.
We hope he danced to his heart’s content till the end and hope he is now dancing in heaven,’ the family said.
His daughter Kristen Alvero told Rolling Stone: ‘My dad loved God, he loved people and he loved to dance. I hope she’s dancing now, at that great gig in the sky.’
A memorial to the victims was erected outside the Star Dance Studio on January 21
Mimi Nan (65) was among those killed in the murder. He was a regular at the Star Ballroom for more than a decade, choosing the Los Angeles-area dance hall as a place to ‘start the year anew’ with a Lunar New Year celebration popular with older Asian Americans, his niece said.
Mimi Nunn, 65, has been a regular at the Star Ballroom for more than a decade
Her family now take some comfort in knowing that Nan died after an evening of doing what she loved.
‘It’s comforting to know that she enjoyed her last dance, even though it was her last dance,’ said her niece Fonda Kwan.
Kwan said her aunt had left the Star Ballroom and was outside her car when she was shot. Kwan said a dance partner in the car with her was not injured.
‘Unfairly, Saturday was her last dance,’ Nunn’s family said in a statement. ‘We are starting the broken lunar new year. We never imagined that his life would end so suddenly.’
A view of the ballroom through the window after the mass shooting that claimed 11 lives
Diana Tom, 70, was critically injured in the shooting and later died in hospital on Sunday. Her family described her as a ‘hardworking mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance,’ ABC reported.
‘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,’ Tom’s family said in a statement. ‘We respect and support all those affected.’
On the night of January 21, Diana was at the Star Dance to celebrate the Lunar New Year by dancing with her friends. To those who knew him, he was someone who always went out of his way to give to others.’
Investigators are trying to determine what led 72-year-old gunman Huu Can Tran to open fire on patrons at the ballroom.
Investigators are still trying to determine what led Tran to open fire on patrons in the ballroom.
How the massacre and manhunt unfolded
Saturday, 10.22pm: Shots are heard at Star Ballroom Dance Studio
10.29pm: 911 responders receive a call about a shooting in Monterey Park
10.33pm: Police and rescue units start reaching the spot
10.38pm: Officials say the studio has been ‘cleared’ and there are initially believed to be 10 unresponsive victims and two others in a critical condition.
10.39pm: Tran enters a second dance hall studio, the Lai Lai Ballroom at the Alhambra. His arms are wrestled away from him
Sunday: The gunman reportedly checked into a local hospital with apparent battle injuries at an unspecified time. He left the ER before treatment
10.20am: Police saw a white cargo van leaving the scene of the shooting
11.15am: White van in shopping center parking lot surrounded by police and SWAT
12.30pm: The Sheriff’s Office says the suspect has barricaded himself in the van
1pm: Police enter car after Tran shoots himself. Evidence linking him to the shooting was found in the car
A man who said he was a longtime friend of Tran’s said the gunman once frequented the dance hall and another man he also targeted, and he thought it was because of the way people treated him there.
Sheriff’s deputies from Los Angeles County searched Tran’s home in a gated senior community in the town of Hemet, more than an hour from the scene of the massacre.
Luna said his officers found a .308-caliber rifle, an undisclosed amount of ammunition and evidence that he was making a homemade gun suppressor that dampens the sound of the weapon.
Hemet police spokesman Alan Reyes said Tran went to Hemet police twice this month to report that he had been defrauded, stolen and poisoned by family members in the L.A. area a decade or two ago. Tran said he would return to the station with the documents but never did.
Tran, who owned a trucking company in Monterey Park from 2002 to 2004, has shared little about him with authorities, according to California business records.
He had been arrested once in 1990 for unlawful possession of a firearm and had a limited criminal history, Luna said. The sheriff could not immediately say whether different firearms laws would have prevented a gun owner from owning a weapon if arrested.
Tran’s ex-wife told CNN they married soon after they met at the Star Ballroom, where he offered her free lessons. He said he would get upset if she missed a step dance, but was never violent towards her.
They divorced five years later, citing irreconcilable differences, Los Angeles Superior Court records show. The couple had no children, said they had no community property, and neither party had to pay alimony.
Although he is named in court papers, he has been asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the case.
His ex-wife’s story was echoed by a friend who told the AP that Tran offered to teach new women at both clubs how to dance for free so he would have a partner.
But Tran was perpetually distrustful and paranoid and regularly complained that people at the club didn’t like him, according to a former friend who requested anonymity to speak about Tran because he wanted to avoid the media spotlight.
‘He is always suspicious of everything. He just doesn’t trust people,’ said the friend. ‘He always complained to me that the coaches … kept a distance from him and, according to him, a lot of people called him bad.’
Tran was found dead of gunshot wounds in the van in which he fled after a second shooting attempt was foiled by ‘hero’ patrons.
Tran eventually moved from the San Gabriel Valley, a hotbed for Asian immigrants, and settled in Hemet, a low-income retirement community 75 miles (120 km) east of Los Angeles in Riverside County.
Tran lived in The Lake in Hemet West, a gated community with views of snow-capped mountains off a busy street. The development includes a par-3 golf course, shuffleboard courts and a dance floor. Properties listed for sale range from $45,000 to $222,000.
A neighbor, Pat Roth, told KNBC-TV that Tran said she was a ballroom dance instructor in the past and sometimes performed dances for the senior community.
‘Didn’t think he’d hurt a fly, you know. He wasn’t a big guy,’ Roth said. ‘She would pet your dog when you walked her.’
Hemet police have no records of Tran being involved in the community or calling for service at his home, Reyes said.
The shootings during Lunar New Year celebrations sent shockwaves through the Asian American community, another blow to a community that has been the target of high-profile violence in recent years and cast a shadow over nationwide festivities.
The massacre was the fifth mass shooting in the country this month and the deadliest since May 24, when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
According to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, Tran is the second-oldest mass murderer in the United States in nearly 20 years.
The only older mass murderer was a 73-year-old who killed five people in Yuma County, Arizona in 2011 before killing himself. The database tracks every homicide that has occurred in the United States since 2006 — defined as four deaths, including the perpetrator.
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