PICTURED: Eleven victims killed by gunman in Monterey Park mass shooting

Author: Yuvi January 25, 2023

The 11 victims of the horrific Monterey Park mass shooting that occurred amid Lunar New Year celebrations have been identified.  

My Nhan, 65, Lilian Li, 63, Xiujuan Yu, 57, Muoi Ung, 67, Hong Jian, 62, Diana Tom, 70, Yu Kao, 72, Chia Yau, 76, Valentino Alvero, 68, Wen Yu, 64, and Ming Ma, 72, have been named as the victims shot dead by gunman Hu Can Tran on Saturday night. 

Tran opened fire at the Star Dance Studio at 10.22pm with his illegal semi-automatic pistol on Saturday. He struck 20 people aged between 52 to 72.

The motive for the shooting is unclear, but Tran’s ex-wife confirmed 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, was the owner of the ballroom studio. Friends of Ma have revealed that he was the first one to rush towards the gunman when he opened fire

Valentino Alvero (left), a father, has also been identified as one of the victims of the shooting. Diana Tom, 70, (right) was critically wounded in the shooting and later died in hospital on Sunday

Tran fired 42 rounds from his 9mm semiautomatic assault weapon and then drove to another nearby dance hall where an employee wrestled the gun away from him. 

The gunman later shot himself dead in his white van he used to escape the scene during a police stand-off on Sunday.

Tributes for the victims poured out online as their families set up a GoFundMe for support. 

Ming Wei Ma, 72, was the owner of the ballroom studio. Friends of Ma have revealed that he was the first one to rush toward the gunman when he opened fire.

Ma’s friend, Eric Chen, told CBS: ‘According to the chat, he was the first to rush the shooter. He was just caring, and other first, people first kind of person.

‘It is heartbreaking and it’s unthinkable that it would happen.’

Instructor Lauren Woods added: ‘He was so adorable to me and I could tell he was the heart of Star Ballroom.

‘So many dancers, teachers and organizers were connected with Ma and I personally will miss him dearly.’

Ma leaves behind two children Ray and Mary.

Mymy Nhan, 65, was one of the 11 victims who was killed in the massacre 

Ming Wei Ma , right, is one of eleven people who were killed in the horrific massacre at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Saturday night

Xiujuan Yu, 57, was confirmed dead by authorities after her family was anxiously waiting to hear from her.

‘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 wrote on a GoFundMe page that raised nearly $11,000.

‘After days of uncertainty, anxiety, and waiting in worry, we received the news that my aunt was indeed among the deceased at the incident.’  

Yu was an immigrant from China with big dreams. She leaves behind a husband and three children. 

‘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,’ her niece wrote. ‘She will never be able to witness what she dreamed of for all these years.’ 

A person lights a candle at a makeshift memorial site in front of the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Monday

Valentino Alvero, a father, has also been identified as one of the victims of the shooting. 

Valentino Alvero was described as a loving father who loved ballroom dancing 

His family described him 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’.

‘He loved people and hearing about their lives and in return, he shared his own stories with so much enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh along 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 that he danced to his heart’s content until the very end and hope that he is now dancing in heaven,’ the family said.

His daughter, Kristenne Alvero, told Rolling Stone: ‘My dad loved God, he loved people, and he loved to dance. I hope he’s dancing now, in that great gig in the sky.’

A memorial was set up for the victims outside the Star Dance Studio on January 21

Mymy Nhan, 65, was among those killed in the massacre. She was a regular at the Star Ballroom for more than a decade, choosing the Los Angeles-area dance hall popular with older Asian Americans as the place to ‘start the year fresh’ with Lunar New Year celebrations, her niece said. 

Mymy Nhan, 65, was a regular at the Star Ballroom for more than a decade

Her family now takes some solace knowing that Nhan died after an evening of doing what she loved.

‘It is comforting to know that she enjoyed her last dance, even though it was her last dance,’ said her niece, Fonda Quan.

Quan said that her aunt had left the Star Ballroom and was backing her car out when she was shot. Quan said a dance partner who was in the car with her was not injured.

‘Unfairly, Saturday was her last dance,’ Nhan’s family said in a statement. ‘We are starting the Lunar New Year broken. We never imagined her life would end so suddenly.’ 

A view of the ballroom is seen through the window following the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 11 people 

Diana Tom, 70, was critically wounded in the shooting and later died in hospital on Sunday. Her family have described her as a ‘hard-working mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance,’ reports ABC. 

‘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,’ Tom’s family said in a statement. ‘We honor and support all of those affected.’ 

‘On the night of January 21, Diana was at Star Dance celebrating 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 give to others.’

Investigators are still trying to establish what drove Gunman Huu Can Tran, 72,  to open fire on the patrons at the ballroom

Investigators are still trying to establish what drove Tran to open fire on the patrons at the ballroom.

How the massacre and manhunt unfolded 

Saturday, 10.22pm: Gunshots ring out in Star Ballroom Dance Studio

10.29pm: 911 responders receive a call about a shooting in Monterey Park

10.33pm: Police and rescue units start to arrive at the scene 

10.38pm: Officers say the studio has been ‘cleared’ and there are initially an estimated 10 unresponsive victims and two more in critical condition

10.39pm: Tran enters a second dance hall studio, the Lai Lai ballroom in Alhambra. His weapon is wrestled away from him

Sunday: Gunman reportedly enters a local hospital at an unspecified time with apparent fight injuries. He leaves ER before being treated

10.20am: Police locate white cargo van seen leaving scene of shooting 

11.15am: White van in shopping center parking lot is surrounded by police and SWAT

12.30pm: Sheriff’s office say the suspect has barricaded himself in the van 

1pm: Police enter the vehicle after Tran shot himself dead. Evidence linking him to the shootings is found in the vehicle 

A man who said he had been a longtime friend of Tran said that the gunman once frequented the dance hall and another that he also targeted and griped about the way he thought 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, a little over an hour’s drive from the site of the massacre.

Luna said his officers found a .308-caliber rifle, an unknown amount of bullets and evidence he was making homemade firearm suppressors that muffle the sound of the weapons.

Tran had visited Hemet police twice this month to report he was the victim of fraud, theft and poisoning by family members a decade or two ago in the LA area, Hemet police spokesperson Alan Reyes said. Tran said he would return to the station with documentation but never did.

Authorities have shared little about Tran, who owned a trucking company in Monterey Park from 2002 to 2004, according to California business records.

He was once arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm in 1990 and had a limited criminal history, Luna said. The sheriff could not immediately say if a gun arrest at a time when firearms laws were different would have barred him from owning weapons.

Tran’s ex-wife told CNN they married soon after they met at Star Ballroom, where he offered her free lessons. She said he would become upset if she missed a step dancing, but was never violent toward her.

They divorced five years later, citing irreconcilable differences, Los Angeles Superior Court records show. The couple did not have children, said they had no community property and neither side had to pay alimony.

While she is named in court papers, she asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case.

His ex-wife’s story was echoed by a friend who told AP that Tran offered to teach new women at both clubs how to dance for free so that he would have a partner.

But Tran was perpetually distrustful and paranoid and would regularly complain that people at the clubs didn’t like him, according to the former friend who requested anonymity to speak about Tran because he wanted to avoid the media spotlight.

‘He always cast a dubious eye toward everything. He just didn’t trust people at all,’ the friend said. ‘He always complained to me that the instructors … kept distance from him, and according to what he said, many people spoke evil of him.’

Tran was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempt at a second shooting that was thwarted by ‘hero’ patrons

Tran eventually moved from the San Gabriel Valley, a melting pot for Asian immigrants, and settled in Hemet, a lower-income community of many retirees 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Los Angeles in Riverside County.

Tran lived in The Lakes at Hemet West, a gated community off a busy road with a view of snow-covered mountains. The development has a par-3 golf course, shuffleboard court and a dance floor. Properties listed for sale ranged from $45,000 to $222,000.

A neighbor, Pat Roth, told KNBC-TV that Tran said he was a ballroom dance instructor in the past and would sometimes show up to dances at the senior community.

‘Didn’t seem like he’d harm a fly, you know. He wasn’t a big guy,’ Roth said. ‘He’d pet your dog when you walked by.’

Hemet police had no records of any incidents involving Tran in the community or calls for service at his home, Reyes said.

The shootings during Lunar New Year celebrations sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities, dealing another blow to a community that has been the target of high-profile violence in recent years and cast a shadow over festivities nationwide.

The massacre was the nation’s fifth mass killing this month and the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Tran is the second-oldest mass killer in the U.S. over the last nearly 20 years according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. 

The only older mass killer was a 73-year-old who murdered five people in Yuma County Arizona in 2011 before killing himself. The database tracks every mass killing – defined as four dead not including the offender – committed in the U.S. since 2006.

25 January, 2023, 10:01 am
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